Sunday, January 31, 2010

Is It Really The Last Day of January??!

Wow! I can't believe that today is the last day of the month! It felt so great to cross the remaining items off of my list! Today I was able to cross the following things off my list:

Run or walk 6 days a week - this was all walking for me following that nasty stomach virus, but I'm ready to get back to running my intervals when I get back from Florida

Order wedding photos - ummmm... so, yes, my husband and I have been married now for FOUR AND A HALF YEARS and I'm just now ordering my wedding photos!!!! We had a friend who is a very talented photographer take our wedding photos and she gave them all to us on a CD. My intention was to have them printed and put our wedding album together myself. Well, I never found what I was looking for for an album. I also never really searched that hard, I would just look when I'd be in different stores. Last May when I was out in Omaha, Nebraska visiting one of my very best friends, I found exactly what I was looking for in a photo and scrapbooking store! So, now EIGHT months later, I'm finally ordering photos to put it together. Now, to be honest, I haven't actually placed the order yet, but that is just because I need to wait 2 weeks before I can order them for financial reasons (it seems like all of our bills are due at the beginning of the month!) but, I have done the hard part and uploaded them all to my favorite website for ordering photos ( and picked out the ones to order and the sizes to order, so I'm crossing it off the list.

Clean out key chain - After several comments from people regarding the ridiculous number of keys on my key chain, I have decided it was finally time to clean it out! First of all, my key chain is this giant solid metal starfish. It could probably inflict some serious damage to someone if I was ever attacked in a dark alley! Second of all, I had THIRTEEN keys on my key chain, and two extra key rings (for no real good reason). Thirteen keys??!!! You would think I moonlighted as a janitor somewhere! In weeding through my key chain, it turns out that I only actually need four keys... imagine that! So, all that is on there now are the two car keys, my house key, my mailbox key, the alarm thing for one of our cars (because it's not part of the key itself) and my various little tag things (like my CVS card, my aquarium membership card, my gym membership card, etc.) I kept the other keys I might need in the future on one of those extra key rings and the others I tossed. I can't believe how much lighter my key ring is! I think I've had all those useless keys on there for probably a good three years now.

No coke for a whole month - This one was only tough on certain days (like the drive down here!) but I really doubted I would make it a whole month. I TOTALLY thought I would cheat on this one, but then once it became a whole week, it was like, well, I can't screw this up now! Then the longer it went, the easier it got. I don't think I will have any coke tomorrow, but I think I probably will have one on my drive home on Tuesday. I like not drinking it. It makes me feel a lot better. I also think I'll REALLY enjoy that Coke on Tuesday, so as a general rule, I think I will go all month every month without Coke and then let myself have one on the first day of every month. I think that is a reasonable compromise with myself.

So, tomorrow I am going to try and post my February list, but I'll be back at my in-laws tomorrow night and not sure if I'll get any computer time and then Andy and I will be making our 8 hour trip home on Tuesday, so we'll see. I have it written and it was just as easy to come up with February's items as it was for January. It only took me a few minutes to make the list! I was telling my husband a few weeks ago that it will be interesting to see how many months worth of "To-Do" type items are on my list before I can finally start transitioning to other things that I want to work on personally and for our family. My guess is that I have a good 6 months worth of items I should have taken care of years ago, but we'll see! I can't believe how fast the month went by and how much I accomplished. Most of all, I can't believe how much fun I'm having! I'm inspired to keep it up! My goal is to be able to look back and say "2010 was the year I changed my life!"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How to Make a Home Management Binder

Whew! I can't believe that I finally got this project started! I'm really excited about starting my home management binder because I think it will be a great resource for our family and for myself while running our household. When I first started staying home full time with Andy I did a lot of reading on some of my favorite blogs about running a household, daily schedules and how other Mom's keep up with it all and keep track of it all! I found the common thread among many to be some kind of family management book. I brought as much with me as I could on this trip to get my binder started, but there is still a lot of information I want to add once I get home next week. I know that eventually this book will become filled with a lot more tabs and a lot more information, but here is what I did to just get started.

1) I purchased a 1" presentation binder (so that I could make my own cover), divider tabs and a package of page protectors

2) I decided on the following tabbed sections for my binder:
Daily Chores - I have a list of all of my daily chores & my daily laundry schedule
Weekly Chores - I have a list of all of my weekly chores divided by day. For example, on Mondays I clean bathrooms and file paperwork, on Fridays I dust, etc.
Birthdays - I have a list of all friend & family birthdays separated by month
Finances - I have a page that lists all of our monthly bills by category. I still need to add a calendar that shows the bills on the day of the month that each is due and I also need to list where I pay each bill (online, through Bank of America Bill Pay, mail, etc.) Since I take care of paying the bills, I want to make it as easy as possible for my husband to take over if something should ever happen to me.
Menu Planning - I don't have anything in this section yet, but my intention is to create monthly menus with shopping lists that I can rotate through. My initial goal is to have three monthly menus. That is going on my list for February.
Andrew - I don't have anything in this section yet, either, because everything is at home, but I will keep copies (not originals) of his medical records, birth certificate, a list of known allergies (which as of now is just amoxicillin) and his pediatrician information
Pet Records - We have 3 dogs and 1 cat, so I will keep copies of their current vaccination records and rabies certificates here.
Contacts - In this section I have a list of all of our immediate family members' phone numbers. I still need to add a list of other important and frequently used numbers.

If you are just starting out making your own binder, you may have other categories to add such as school schedules or children's extra curricular activities schedules, etc. For our family, this is a good starting point. Sometimes it's hard to think that I have been married for four and a half years and I am just now putting something like this together, but I was too focused on other things before to really think about running a more organized household.

Okay, so I can now cross off starting a home management binder and making a birthday list! Fantastic! Oh, and in an effort of full disclosure, I'm swapping out 'making wipes solution' from my January list with 'clean out key chain' from my February list. I can't make up the wipes solution until I get home! I can not BELIEVE that there is only one more day left in this month and I will have accomplished 31 things!! (well, really only 30 because I passed off brushing the dogs for a week to my husband while I am gone! ha ha) It's a really good feeling to have come so far in a month and I'm excited to keep it up!

Friday, January 29, 2010

What do I do now that my baby book is full?

I just finished updating Andy's baby book... sniffle sniffle... He turned one at the end of August, but I feel like I'm just now starting to realize that he isn't a baby anymore. Tonight just sealed the deal! Surprisingly enough, I was pretty up to date on his book. The only entries I had to make were for his first birthday and his first steps. The last page was titled "More Thoughts" so I wrote a letter to him about how it felt to be his Mom this past year. Ugggh! Waterworks! Becoming a mother to this little boy has just totally completely and profoundly changed my life. I love him more than I ever knew was possible and raising him every day is truly such a joy. It was the job I was destined to do!

Okay, okay, enough with the sappiness! The only thing I left in this book is to have a few pictures printed (first bath, first birthday) and then attach the pictures to the pages. All the other pictures are in the book right now sandwiched on the appropriate pages, but not actually attached. My Mom bought me the cutest baby book! I love it! It's from Rag & Bone Bindery (http://http// We did not find out if we were having a boy or a girl ahead of time, so she picked out the "Little Birdie Blue" cover. It's just adorable and pretty gender neutral. I took a picture of the front of his book just now. Since my Mom and Andy are both asleep in our studio apartment here in retirement city, I had to take the book out into the hall (in my pj's... not like anyone else is up!) and find a table to prop it up on and take the picture with my camera phone! Anyway... isn't it just so sweet?! I love it!

So, the dilemma... what do I do from this point forward to document each year? I am not sure that I would be able to keep up with scrapbooks, especially if there are more kids in our future, but I want to do more than just put a years' worth of pictures in an album. I feel like he is changing SO much these days and I want to document it all, but I just haven't figured out the best way yet.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Family Activity Calendar

Tonight I set up my family activity calendar. This happened simultaneously with setting up my planner. That's right, until tonight I had NOTHING written in the daily planner that I have owned since July. Sometimes I seriously wonder how I have been functioning in every day life! Anyway, since I am now staying home with Andy full time, I've been feeling like I need to establish a weekly activity routine with him. I can only live in a world of Little People for SO long everyday!!

We are fortunate enough to have a family membership to the aquarium in our town and my Dad got us a membership to the children's museum for Christmas. Those are going to be our two primary weekly activities. Right now, for February, I have set up Mondays as aquarium day and Wednesdays as children's museum days. I also went to our county library website and checked out what programs they offer. We are going to try story time for children under 24 months once during February and see how we like it. I did take Andy to story time at Barnes & Noble one day not too long ago, and, although he did well, I just didn't feel like he was old enough to really benefit. I might feel differently, however, if it is story time geared specifically to children under two years old.

We are very lucky to have a fantastic county park system here in Charleston, so I've marked Thursdays in February as park days. We have several fun parks to choose from, so we shouldn't get too bored with that either. I think that I will spend an hour at the beginning of each month checking the websites for the aquarium, children's museum, county library, county parks and the online calendar for Lowcountry Parent Magazine and populate each month's calendar with any special programs or events that we want to try. Eventually, once Andy is older and we (hopefully) have more children, I will most likely move our family activity calendar to a board that everyone can read, but for now, that just seems unnecessary. My planner can finally serve a purpose!

I have found that with Andy's daily schedule, we both crave and thrive on routine. I try VERY hard to stick to meal times, nap time and snack times. It really benefits us both. I can plan appointments or play dates appropriately and Andy knows when to expect meals, nap time and bed time. I know that all children don't take good naps everyday, but Andy takes one 3 hour nap every day and I really feel like a big part of that is because when I felt like he was ready and I noticed him transitioning to one nap a day on his own, I started putting him down at the same time every day regardless of his behavior. I stopped waiting for him to act tired. Now he knows that he takes a nap after lunch everyday and I know that I can put him in his crib awake an he'll put himself to sleep rather quickly.

I think that we will both benefit from the weekly predictability of our "activity days."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wasted Spaces

I love basically any show on the DIY network, HGTV or the property shows on TLC. I could waste days watching renovation shows, decorating shows and house flipping shows, especially the ones where the people are complete idiots and you wonder why any bank lent them money to buy a $400,000 fixer upper when they have no discernible means of paying to actually fix it up! That's quality programming right there!

I think it's DIY that has a show called "Wasted Spaces". They have a carpenter/host who shows people how to tap into wasted space in their house for additional storage. That is exactly the task at hand for my husband while Andy and I are living it up in this retirement community for the week! There is a good size chunk of space under our stairs that is just being wasted. I've decided that it's the perfect place to store my Christmas bins. My husband is going to cut an access door into the back of our coat closet so that we can utilize that space.

I think it's kind of crazy how much space is not utilized in new homes today. I look at the house my Grandfather built, that my Mom grew up in and I grew up in (from 8th grade on) and there were so many built-in shelves, extra closets and storage spaces. Every available space was used. I look at the house my husband and I just moved into, which was built new by a cookie cutter builder, and there is absolutely no creative customization. I know that the name of the game these days is to do whatever is cheapest so that the developer and builder can make the most money, but it just rubs me the wrong way. I do really miss living in our 1920 four square fixer upper. It just had so much character! Living in that kind of house is not an option where we live now, so I'm trying to figure out how to add character to our basic builder house. Not an easy task for sure!

Before I left I cleaned out the coat closet. It had a bunch of stuff piled on the floor. I only took a before picture and not an after. Basically the closet is empty now. My husband needs to finish putting the hardwoods in there and then bust through that back wall and into the space under the stairs. Thanks honey!!

The only surprise I found while cleaning was a container of mixed vegetables in a lunch pack I had packed for my son. I'm not even going to attempt to date it! I didn't see any fuzzy mold growing, but it was all kind of floating in a cream like substance, and I KNOW when I made it that it wasn't creamed!

I also took our old vacuum that was in there to Goodwill along with the bags that went with it. That felt good! I keep telling myself that I'm making progress one closet at a time! Eventually I'll have to get to the point where I will tackle whole rooms, right? And maybe, someday, the garage!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to Procrastinate

On Sunday I packed up my car and drove 8 hours south to Florida... with my 17 month old... and without my husband. I had a few people tell me that I was crazy and a few people tell me I was brave. Mostly I was just really nervous. Thankfully, my son did amazing on the trip and has done great since we got here two days ago. Our first two nights were spent at my in-laws house. We had a very nice visit, although it was strange to be there without my husband! Today, we picked my Mom up at the airport and drove to my Grandparents retirement community. My Mom, my son and myself are staying in a studio apartment here in the complex. This should prove interesting in the evenings for my son going to sleep. It's now an hour and forty five minutes past his bed time and I can still hear him talking. He's kind of around the corner from where my Mom and I are sitting, but I know he knows we are out here. It's hard not having a separate bedroom for him, but this is still bigger than a hotel room. It almost feels like the clicking on my laptop keys is too loud! I know I should sit here and read quietly, but I've been in withdrawal not being able to get on the Internet for two days and most of all, not be able to update my blog!

So, in preparation for my trip, I did a few things in advance on my list and then I carefully planned and brought the other things with me. The big project that I'll be tackling this week is making a home management binder. I'm going to work on that during nap times. I'll post my "how to" when I finish it. It will be nice this week not to worry about cleaning my house during nap times and just focus on getting some organizing done.

Okay. Finally... the item I am crossing off the list today... taking clothes to the dry cleaners. First of all, as a general rule, I try not to buy anything that needs to be dry cleaned. I know myself well enough to know that it's not going to make it there in a timely manner, and I'm going to cringe when I have to pay for it. However, despite my best efforts, we had accumulated a total of ten pieces that needed to be dry cleaned. I had put them all in a trash bag and put the bag in the trunk of my car until I could afford to take it to the cleaners. I was still driving around with it in the trunk when we moved into our house in July. It got moved inside because we needed the trunk space and has been sitting in our future office (current random storage room) ever since.

On Saturday, I brought that bag to the cleaners! On the drive there, I was trying to remember exactly when I packed that bag. I knew it was in the winter, after Christmas, so it must have been last year, because we were in our rental house. Right. A year. Not TOO bad! Then I started thinking 'was it only a year, or has it been two...?' Lord help me. Surely I wasn't driving around with a bag of dry cleaning for TWO YEARS!!! Right? RIGHT???!!! When I got inside, I could feel something inside the pocket of my husband's suit coat. It was the program from his Grandfather's funeral. From June, 2007.

TWO YEARS????!! Every time I have these moments I just have to remind myself not to dwell on why I have such an incredible procrastination problem, but just to focus on the fact that I'm doing something about it now. I would probably be more successful writing a blog about how to procrastinate. I've heard you should always write about what you know. At least I'm finally breaking the bad habits. But, man, am I going to cringe at that dry cleaning bill! (good thing I had a coupon for 30% off!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Rear End

Hallelujah! I woke up this morning feeling almost back to normal, but definitely over my stomach virus! I was really happy about that and totally ready to launch into full cleaning & productivity mode! In addition to the cleaning, there were a few projects that I needed to get ahead on for my list before I leave tomorrow for Florida. The only thing that will be left will be to brush the dogs every day for a week and I already passed that one off on my husband. He's excited to do a guest post! So, I'm feeling in pretty good shape for the month! Just need to make sure I bring everything with me on my trip that I will need to finish up for January and the start of February.

My energy level was still kind of low this morning, so the one thing I was dreading was setting up the recycling bins in the garage. The actual act of putting the bins in place... no sweat... moving all the JUNK that was in the way... a whole other story!
I lost 6 pounds in 24 hours when I was sick. I honestly didn't know I could lose THAT much water weight, but Lord knows there wasn't an ounce of fluid left in me, so I guess it was possible. This morning my husband remarked that my butt looked smaller, which is nice to hear of course, but all I could think was 'Wow! I was retaining 6 lbs of water in my rear end... like a camel with two humps!' Nice.

So, for whatever reason (the universe conspiring against me??) this afternoon I started feeling really itchy and realized I had broken out in a rash ALL over my body. My first thought was 'are you KIDDING me??!!!' Ugghhh... so, off I went to urgent care. If I wasn't planning on leaving tomorrow for Florida I would have just tried Benadryl first, as I was sure it was just from the virus, but I felt like if I wanted to retain any hope of leaving tomorrow, then I better go get it checked out. The doctor said that indeed it was most likely from the virus... and then I got a steroid injection... in my REAR END. I told the nurse there was plenty to pinch, and it really didn't hurt when she gave me the shot. She said "well, it's going to start to hurt in a minute." Fantastic! Especially since I now have 6 less pounds of fluid in my butt to absorb it!

Okay, so the point to all of this... the doctor told me the only side effect of the shot would be that I might feel like I have some "extra pep!" Whoo hoo! So, although my fluid-less rear end was now jacked up on steroids, I TOTALLY had the energy to tackle the recycle bins! (and all of my other projects) And, as I sit here typing this, I'm not at all itchy!

Maybe the universe is not conspiring against me after all... maybe it just wants me to start recycling again after my 6 month hiatus!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Drowning in Paperwork

I have hated being sick this week. Not that anyone ever likes being sick, but I have just been so frustrated this week because I haven't been able to get anything done. Normally I wouldn't care as much, but I was supposed to leave tomorrow to drive to Florida to visit family. I've pushed that back until Sunday, but I was already going to have to "get ahead" on my list for January in order to get everything done while being out of town. It has been hard for me to not get ANYTHING done for a week. My house is a complete wreck. I hope my energy levels are back to normal tomorrow so that I can just go into full on cleaning mode!

Last night I finally tackled sorting through and organizing all the paperwork in our house. It was something I could do while sitting on the floor and didn't require any energy. This is the first house we have ever lived in where the guest room doesn't have to double as an office. We have a separate office... which I will love... eventually. Right now, it's just being used for storage of random things. You know it's bad when your 3rd grade neighbor comes over and points out "My Dad uses that room for is office. I can tell that you just use it for storage." Yes, very true. Or when your 3 year old neighbor is over and asks you "but, why is it so messy?" Point taken. In my defense, we have no office furniture, and thus, no motivation to clean it out. It's going to be a little while before we can afford to get that room set up. In the mean time, I have NO filing method for all of the paperwork that comes through here. It stresses me out. The general pattern has been that it piles up on the counter, or table, and then we have company over and I move the pile someplace else to sort through later. That place has mostly been an empty dresser in our bedroom. Yes, this is embarassing, but I had 3 dresser drawers full of paperwork. Most of which was able to be thrown away last night. The rest I sorted into piles and will put it all in file folders tonight. When we get the office set up, I need to get a good file system going. I should probably get some file boxes for hanging folders before we can get the office set up and establish a good system now. I think my husband would agree that paperwork issue in our house is definitely a frustrating problem.

I dream of one day having a well organized home office and great system for taking care of household papers. I need to put some thought into what that system is going to be. It feels good to be making progress for sure, but sometimes it's frustrating to not be able to just get everything done NOW! I guess that's the point of this whole project though. Progress a little bit at a time is better than nothing at all, right?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Next In Line

As of yesterday, I TOTALLY thought I was not going to get the stomach virus my husband and son got. I should have known I was doomed last night when I made the comment to Matt that "I must have a superior immune system." Ha!

So, this is officially the first day of the month that I haven't crossed anything off my list. So, after 8 hours straight of actually getting sick, I'm finally at the point where I can sit up, sip some ginger ale (which I hate... probably because I only ever drank it warm with bubbles stirred out when I was sick growing up... so that is ALL I can associate it with) and reconnect with the world. I can't remember the last time I went all day without checking e-mail or facebook. I guess maybe the day I gave birth to Andy! I still feel pretty queasy but I'm just not tired enough to go to bed yet. I was in bed all day. Well, when I wasn't in the bathroom anyway.

Yesterday, I finally got my crochet bag organized. Once a week I get together with a group of girlfriends for "Stitch N' Bitch" or, SNB as we call it. I haven't actually crocheted anything in well over a year. One week while I was pregnant I forgot to bring my stitching to SNB and I honestly never brought it again. Back then I had everything in a plastic grocery bag... actually 3 separate plastic grocery bags. So, last night I brought all 3 bags and the crochet bag that my Grandmother made me to SNB. I sorted everything out. I felt pretty dumb that those grocery bags had Christmas cards in them that were handed out 2 years ago at SNB and a few other pieces of trash. Along with a project that I had started but didn't even recognize and couldn't remember who I had started making it for! In those moments I have to try really hard to concentrate on the fact that I'm making changes now and not on the fact that I've left things so disorganized for so long.

Well, Matt and Andy seemed a lot better the next day when they were sick, so I'm sure hoping that is the case for me tomorrow. I now have a huge backlog of items I need to get done that just haven't happened after taking care of Matt and Andy for the past 3 days. Hopefully I won't feel too weak when I wake up in the morning. I'm hugely appreciative of my husband leaving work at 9:30 this morning to come home and take care of me and of Andy. Hopefully I can get our house back in order... finally... tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Disinfecting My House

Okay, so it has been a complete vomit fest here for the past two days!! I think we are now in the recovery phase... as long as I don't get it... fingers crossed! We thought my husband had some kind of food poisoning because he was up sick ALL night Saturday night and slept ALL day Sunday, but then woke up Monday morning perfectly fine. We realized it was some sort of stomach virus yesterday afternoon when Andy started throwing up... everywhere... in large 20-30 minute increments. I felt SO bad for him. This is the first time he's really been sick like this and throwing up. He's 17 months old. It got to the point where it was almost comical, like when you are watching a cartoon character throw up and they just open their mouth and stuff spews out like a fountain for 20 straight seconds... ya... it was unfathomable the amount of liquid that his stomach can hold. He wanted to drink and I wanted him to stay hydrated, so we did go through 5 and a half things of Pedialite last night. We went through every single bath towel & blanket we owned and Matt and I changed clothes so many times, we were all out of pj pants, t-shirts and gym shorts by the end of the night. By 8:00 p.m. he was done, went to bed at 10:00 p.m. and slept until 8:00 a.m. this morning. Bless him. I thought we were going to be up ALL night.

My husband was probably happy to go back to work today after the long weekend so that he didn't have to deal with the after math. Our house seriously looks like a tornado came through here. I'm still trying to get all of the soaked clothes and towels washed. Good thing it's in the mid 60's today because I really needed to air the house out. I have all the windows open and it's great!

So, yesterday I was realizing that I would have to make some modifications to my list. When I made my list for January I didn't know I was going to be gone for 11 days at the end of the month. There is just no hope that the family room is going to get painted before Saturday and I can't hang the blinds until after I paint and although I tried to schedule play dates this month, all of the kids we know have been sick, so, that just isn't going to happen. Since I had already made my list for February, I just traded out with 3 things from February's list. Yesterday morning my neighbor asked what I did all morning and I said that I organized my food storage containers and re-arranged my kitchen cabinets. She responded with "I didn't see that on the list!" (thanks Leslie!) So, now I feel like I have to disclose that I made some trades!

I did get my storage containers organized yesterday, but I'm not sure that the cabinet won't just become another jumbled mess. Previously, they were on the lazy susan and that was NOT working. Plus, I had a bunch of random lids and containers that didn't match. So, I matched them all up and put the rest in the Goodwill pile (along with a smoothie maker and rice cooker we never use). I moved the containers and lids to the skinny cabinet next to the sink (now that my freezer bags, tinfoil and cling wrap are in the pantry) but I need some tips or ides from people on what works for them keeping all that organized. Any suggestions?

My plan for the lazy susan is to get a few cheap baskets to put all of Andy's cups and bowls in so that he can get them himself. We'll see how this works out. I also totally rearranged our upper cabinets too. I needed a place to put all of those farm dishes! After 3 tries, I was able to fit them ALL in one cabinet! I'm very proud of that! Bless my husband for not making a big deal out of how many there were, and why we need them, when he came home and saw them spread all over our dining room table. Although, I did see some cute dishes with blueberries on them in the LL Bean catalog that came the other day and when I showed them to him and said "Aren't these cute?" he replied with "Don't you think we have enough dishes?!!" Point taken. But I reserve the right to get those cute blueberry dishes if I ever have a farm house in Maine some day! (what??!!! a girl can dream!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Let me just say that there is no better motivation to lose weight than going to try on bridesmaid dresses with 4 people who are all smaller than a size 8 dress! I have not made "lose weight" a resolution because I am smart enough to know that that just does not work for me. I'm trying really hard to make several smaller resolutions and changes and stick to them that I think will result in weight loss, but after today, I feel like I really need to step it up. My brother is getting married to one of my very best friends in September and I am the matron of honor. There is NO WAY that I want to see myself at my current weight in their wedding pictures. That in and of itself is wonderful motivation.

I feel like I need to add a weight loss counter on the side of my blog or something. I don't want to post how much I weigh, but my goal is to lose 2 lbs a week until I reach the "normal" range for my BMI. For me, right now, that is 42 lbs away. For my health, I think that is a good first weight loss goal.

I've already stopped drinking soda and majorly cut back on eating out and started taking my metformin (which I step up to two 500 mg. pills/day starting tomorrow... yuck!) but I KNOW my body and I know how stubborn it is to lose weight. I know that what I really have to do is cut the simple carbs and the sweets. I really really like bread. I really really like brownies. This is a problem since I really really want to fit into a bridesmaid dress that is 4 sizes smaller than I tried on today!

I'm not looking forward to this. AT ALL. But, I'm really hoping that if I can power through the first few weeks and see results that it will motivate me to keep going. That's been the case with everything else so far, so here's to hoping that trend continues!

Today I had to pick something short and sweet on my list, so my husband and I sat down and worked out maintenance schedules for our two rental properties. Well, not so much maintenance schedules, but more of a list of 6-8 small projects that we would like to complete at each property over the course of this calendar year. They are definitely reasonable and I have no doubt we can accomplish them over the next 11 months. The reason I felt like I had to make this a resolution is because I felt like we were becoming a little complacent with our rentals. When we first moved to Charleston, we were still in the process of renovating the house in NC to get it ready to rent. So, we would drive 4 hours up and 4 hours back every weekend to work on it. Then, I got pregnant... and we still made that drive every weekend. Eventually, I stopped, but my husband went EVERY WEEKEND. We made our deadline (barely), got the house rented, and then 1 week before I was due, a pipe burst in the attic, totally flooding the whole right side of our house, upstairs and down. I seriously thought I was going to go into early labor when I got that phone call (no joke! My uterus was having the equivalent of a panic attack!) When I say it did a LOT of damage, I'm not exaggerating in the least! Thankfully our insurance company was awesome, but when it was all said and done, the damages were over thirty thousand dollars. Paying our deductible was worth every penny, but it was just so stressful. I actually gave my future sister-in-law a sheet of paper when we went into the hospital to deliver Andy with instructions on what to say or do if any of the contractors or tenants called WHILE I WAS GIVING BIRTH! So... needless to say... after that whole fiasco I was so over doing any projects at that house!

But... I'm better now! And starting to MAJORLY get the itch to keep going on our improvements. We have thought about selling that house in NC, but I guess we are still just too attached. We have great tenants that want to renew their lease in August, so we are going to stick with it. I feel better now that we have a list though. Now, we have something to work towards!

Major Accomplishment!

The item that I can now cross off my list as of yesterday is "Not eat out for a week." Honestly, I wasn't sure that I could do it, but you know what? It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought once I set it as a goal! It actually felt really good yesterday knowing that I had gone SEVEN days without a lunch out or a bagel from Panera or even ordering a pizza!

I can't say that all of the meals that I cooked were perfectly healthy, but at least they were home cooked meals. One step at a time here! I am surprised at how good I feel after not eating out. I would always feel guilty for eating out because it didn't feel like a treat. I always felt like it was out of convenience and then I would feel guilty for wasting the money when I could have probably made a few really good home cooked meals for the same price. (not to mention how embarrassed I started to feel that the workers at Panera know me by name!) I want to get to the point where going out to eat is something special that we do, not the norm. I'm not even sure how we fell into this habit of eating out so much. I think that a lot of it started when we were renovating the house in N.C. Our kitchen was only borderline usable so we definitely ate out ... a LOT. I think a big part of it was also to escape from the chaos of our house being a construction zone and not having any heat, etc.

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, it's probably always about it being an escape. Even now. I would go through the drive through at Chick-fil-A because if I went home and tried to figure out what was for lunch I would feel guilty for not planning meals or writing out a shopping list and it would just make me feel more like I was failing at being a good wife and mother. The ironic thing is, that getting take out for lunch didn't let me escape from what I was feeling for any longer than it would take me to eat. After that I would feel even worse because I would feel like I should be doing a better job meal planning AND I would feel guilty for spending the money and not eating very healthily.

It's funny how sometimes just writing something out makes you look at your behaviors in a different way.

Well, I know that I felt much better this past week than I have in a long time, so my goal is to keep this up! I want dining out to be a treat, not a guilt trip! Now... to figure out what I'm going to tackle today....

Friday, January 15, 2010

Money Management

Today I crossed something off my list that is the start of a much bigger resolution. Today I finished getting "My Portfolio" set up on my Bank of America online banking site. I've decided to give this a try since it's free, instead of purchasing Quicken (which was my original plan). If you are a Bank of America customer and you have online banking set up then you can take advantage of this money management tool. (

Today I finished up entering in all of my account information for credit cards, mortgages, auto loans & student loans. My Portfolio will track all of our spending and categorize everything for any time period that I specify. It will also show when each loan payment is due and the minimum due as well as the loan balance. It automatically calculates net worth and tracks any increases or decreases. The only accounts it's not picking up for some reason right now are our 401k's. I might have to call customer service for help on that. Anyway, I loaded in my monthly budget and set up the categories of spending I want to track. It will show me pie charts and graphs of where our money is being spent each month.

Gaining better control over our financial situation is something that I have needed to do for a LONG time. My husband and I don't manage money poorly, but we aren't great either. I think the majority of the problem is that we have a lot of monthly obligations because we have 2 rental properties (that we manage ourselves) and it becomes a lot to keep up with. I have had a budget made up in an excel spreadsheet for a while, and although it looks good on paper, that's pretty much all it has been since I created it. It seemed good in theory, but we definitely weren't sticking to it. We have some debt that needs to be paid off and we are in desperate need of creating an emergency fund.

It's a very stressful feeling to feel like you don't have good control over where you money is being spent. Especially when you know that you could be being a LOT smarter with it! We just purchased a new home in June and moved in in July. It is a brand new home in the first phase of a new neighborhood. We took the approach of buying the largest house we could afford in the nicest neighborhood that we could afford so that we wouldn't out grow it and need to move in a few years. So far, it has been great, but I totally underestimated the cost involved in furnishing the extra space. Some days it's hard because I really want everything to be done RIGHT NOW and that just isn't financially possible. We are working on things one room at a time (sometimes one closet at a time!) and we are definitely making progress.

Sometimes I find it funny that it stresses me out that everything isn't done yet because this is surely the nicest place we have ever lived! We bought our first house only 2 months after we got married and I think that most of our friends and family thought we were CRAZY! In fact, I distinctly remember my father saying the words "you are crazy!"... several times... although I'm sure it was with concern that we were in over our heads with the work that needed to be done. The movie "The Money Pit" was mentioned quite frequently! Anyway, it was a two story, four square house built in 1920 and the inside was HIDEOUS! It also did not have central heating or air. We felt like we were getting a great deal and it was exactly what we were looking for. Suffice it to say we had a vision of what that house could be. We lived that whole first year with things barely unpacked, in a total construction zone working on projects ourselves as we had the money to do so. This was all also done without central heating. We used space heaters only and often times slept with hats on. (This is when having 3 dogs in the bed comes in handy! ha ha!) I remember one morning I got up and went downstairs and picked up a fast food soft drink cup that my husband had gotten the night before and it STILL had ice in it! Yes, our house was that cold. We really were crazy! But it wasn't that bad. We had fun working on the house and it definitely gave us a sense of pride and accomplishment. So I don't know why I complain sometimes about this house not being all the way furnished! We live in a super energy efficient house now... and more importantly... it has HEAT! Nothing to complain about here!

Long story short, we did get that house renovated eventually and it's currently one of our rental houses. Turns out it is better for us financially as a rental because it's 2 blocks from a major university. My husband and I have never really taken the conventional route to do anything in our lives. Most of our friends and family just accept now that we are the couple that makes crazy decisions, takes risks that they probably wouldn't and that they should never write our address anywhere in ink! That's what makes it all the more humorous to me that we now live in a brand new house in a cookie-cutter neighborhood. It just feels SO not us. But I guess priorities change when you start a family... and I wouldn't change that for anything in the world!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Julie & Julia

Tonight I watched the movie "Julie & Julia." It was a cute movie and has given me some things to think about as I'm just starting out on my own blogging adventure. When I first decided to start this blog I didn't send anyone the link. I was doing this for myself and not because I cared in the least if anyone else read it. I assumed I would write here every night as sort of an on-line journal and my husband would be my only reader and then we would talk about things I wrote in my blog posts. It's only been 2 weeks, but already I'm having so much fun writing that a few days ago I sent the link to my 4 very best friends (that includes you Mom). My friend Kim asked if I had seen the movie "Julie & Julia" because she assumed that was where I came up with the idea for the blog. I had heard of the movie, but hadn't seen it. Of course I googled it to read the reviews and realized pretty quickly why she would think that was my inspiration for this blog. So, of course, I had to go rent it. (By the way... LOVE the Red Box! I love renting movies for only a dollar!)

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie. Although I'm glad I didn't see it in the theater, I could see a lot of similarities between myself and the main character Julie. I can understand her motivation to want to start her blog project. I think that what I have struggled with over the past several (well, if I stop and think... and count... more like eight) years is that I felt like I was just kind of lost. Not in a totally dysfunctional and depressed state or anything, just personally unfulfilled. I mean, I did get married, have fantastic friends, have the most amazing little boy, but just personally, I felt lost. At times I've struggled to explain this to my husband because I haven't ever wanted him to feel like I wasn't fulfilled in our marriage. It seems like the two should go hand in hand, but they just don't. I feel like there is this whole part of my life that is progressing as it should and as I want it to, but then there is this whole other part of my life that has just been stagnant for way too long. I know my husband understands how I feel because I think he feels the same way.

I think that a lot of how you are feeling on the inside shows up in different ways on the outside. For me, that feeling of not really knowing my place in life professionally and feeling like I had lost my way spiritually and feeling like I was missing some sort of motivational drive or passion has expressed itself outwardly in the chaotic way that my surroundings are kept and in my inability to see anything all the way through. Don't get the impression that I am living in some crazy "Clean House" style clutter pit (well, the garage, maybe yes!) or that I sit around on the couch all day watching mindless TV and eating Bon Bons. I can certainly make the main living areas of my house presentable for company and I'm not an anti-social person, but it's the "behind the scenes" stuff that is just a mess. Total disorganization. It just nags at me constantly. It's hard to function the way I want to function when everything is in such disarray.

I have no idea why I've finally reached a point where I am ready to change, but I really truly know that I am there. I am ready to be more physically and mentally healthy. I feel like for the first time in eight years I'm taking the right approach to change. I'm up for this challenge. I want the person that I am in my head to match the person I am on the outside too.

Today I took a load of clothes to Goodwill. I'm sure it is the first trip of many. Normally I would let things pile up because I would reason with myself that there was no point in making the trip until I had gone through EVERYTHING in my house and taken it all at one time. Well, the Goodwill is not even a 5 minute drive down the road and who cares if I have everything to take at one time??! At least this was progress. I'm learning that everything doesn't have to be a grand gesture. It seriously took me less time to go to the Goodwill, drop off those clothes and come back home than it did to find that change purse last night!

So, as I sit here drinking my green tea after just taking my metformin on my 14th day of not drinking coke and my fifth day of not eating out I can honestly say that I am more proud of myself for the way I have lived my life these past two weeks than I have been in a very long time. I may have been more proud of myself for things in the past, but I've certainly never, ever been as aware of it as I am right now.

I Hate Buying Cosmetics!

Today I went to Rite Aid and CVS. I feel a little torn because I spent more money than I wanted to, but I also got some really good deals on things that we needed. I'm realizing though, that I'm going to have to be careful not to buy things just because they are a good deal. Now that I have a small stock pile built up, I need to only buy things when they are almost free.

I rarely buy make-up and only buy face wash, shampoo, body wash, etc. when we run out. Before last week, I wasn't using coupons for any of it, so it would be $7 or $10 here or there added into a Target or Walmart trip total. This is the first time I've bought several things at once to stock up. The only make-up I ever really use is a tinted moisturizer (I like Olay Total Effects), mascara, cover-up (if needed and I'm going out) and blush. I currently don't own any eye shadow. I have one black eye liner pencil, but can never get myself to spend money on make-up. However, I was all out of my tinted moisturizer, my mascara is ridiculously old and I have some cover-up from my Mom, but it just isn't really the right kind for my skin and is too sticky, so I needed something different.

Rite-aid was offering a $5 off of a $20 purchase coupon for watching 20 short ad videos ( so, I did that last night and printed my on-line coupon. I also found a great coupon match up for coupons from the Sunday paper and store coupons from this week's sales flier at The Krazy Coupon Lady ( I also printed out the Johnson & Johnson Beauty for All Ages $10 rebate
( This rebate is good when you purchase $30 worth of Aveeno, Ambi, Clean & Clear, Purpose, Lubriderm and RoC products.

So, I went to Rite Aid armed with my coupons and my list and found everything I was looking for. The only difference between The Krazy Coupon Lady's scenario and my scenario was the pricing. The prices shown on that website were less than I paid for the Lubriderm and the Aveeno. Maybe they had smaller sized products that weren't available in my area, or maybe prices were just more here! I bought the Lubriderm, Aveeno and Clean & Clear (which happens to be what my husband uses for face wash, so that worked out great!) at Rite Aid and then went to CVS for the Olay Total Effects tinted moisturizer (which is always right around $20 so I HATE when I run out) and I also purchased some cover up and mascara.

All in all, my retail total was $93.39. Holy cow! Although I am sure I would have spent that anyway buying everything separately at different shopping trips and never realizing what it all added up to! BUT...

I had $31.50 in coupons
I got back $8 in Extra Care Bucks at CVS to use on my next purchase
I have the $10 Johnson & Johnson rebate to mail in
I have a $5.00 rebate to mail into Olay

So, that all brings my total down to $38.89 which is a savings of 58%

Not bad, but I'm really hoping eventually I can be one of those people who consistently saves around 75%. I think I can get there with practice.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Tried to Pick Something Small...

... and it turned into a 45 minute activity! I didn't really have time today to tackle anything big on my list. This morning my neighbor and I took our boys to the Aquarium (that membership has been one of our best purchases all year!), came home, had lunch and Andy went down for a nap. I got some laundry folded, some dishes emptied from the dishwasher and then I sat down to go through this week's grocery sales fliers and match up the deals to my coupons and before I knew it, nap time was over.
We went to the grocery store... my 2nd adventure in couponing. I spent $75 but saved $43 and $20 of that $75 total was diapers, which I do not count in my grocery budget. So, I feel pretty good about that. I still need to make a trip to Rite Aid and CVS tomorrow. I'll post about that trip and the rebates and coupons separately tomorrow.

On Wednesday nights my group of friends here gets together for a group we call "Stitch n' Bitch." Lately there's been less stitching and more... well... you know... going on! It's more like our weekly therapy session and I feel incredibly lucky to have that once a week! Thanks to my awesome brother for watching Andy tonight so that I could go, because I sure needed a break!

Anyway, I didn't get home until 10:30 and still needed to take the trash out and all of the gazillion boxes from unpacking all the dishes yesterday and then FINALLY at 11:00 I sat down to figure out what I could accomplish from my list today!!! So, I picked to organize my gift cards in the cute little change purse that my grandmother made me for Christmas last year. My grandmother is very crafty and makes wonderful quilts and bags and all sorts of great things. I love getting presents from her. They are always my favorite. So, anyway, this little change purse is perfect for gift cards because it has 3 staggered pouches inside and fits perfectly in my purse. This way I don't have gift cards stacked in my wallet making it too bulky to snap shut.

So, I thought I knew right where the purse was. I mean, I had just seen it... somewhere. After searching around for 30 minutes I FINALLY remembered where I had put it. It took me all of 5 min. to get my gift cards together and put them in there. Although, I did find some gift cards that I forgot I had. I have $385 worth of gift cards to various places. That does not even include gift certificates I still haven't used. I have a gift certificate to a bed and breakfast from my Mom that I need to make reservations for and one for a massage and a facial from my husband from Christmas A YEAR AGO that I haven't used. Seriously???!!! What is my problem???!!! Who procrastinates getting a massage? I LOVE massages!

One of the things that has been so frustrating for me is the time that I feel like I'm wasting looking for things. I'm so over it. I know that I can only tackle organizing one thing at a time, but some days it just doesn't feel like it's happening fast enough. It's not just time that is wasted either, it's also the money. I cringe at the thought of how many duplicate items we are going to find out in that garage (I can't even THINK about putting the garage on my list until at least March!). We are always looking for a wrench or a tape measure or a stud finder... and eventually give up looking and just buy a new one. Really, it's sad. And embarrassing. I don't want to feel so scatter brained all the time anymore. That is why I'm doing this whole project. I am really proud that I've stuck with this for almost 2 weeks now!!! Only 50 more to go! ha ha!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Dishes??

Next on my list was to unpack the farm dishes from my grandmother. My intention with that task was to unpack AND put away. However, I totally did not expect the number of dishes that were packed in those boxes!!! There are 24 (yes, TWENTY FOUR!) dinner plates alone! So, although I had cleared out a bottom cabinet for the dishes, there is no way that they will fit in there. I am going to have to completely rearrange my cabinets.

I really like the dishes. I think they are cute and I will actually use them as my special occasion dishes, so I want them to be accessible, but there was no way I could tackle moving everything around in my kitchen tonight! I'll have to ask my grandmother why she had so many!

It does feel good though to get all of those boxes out of the garage. Those dishes have been packed up for over three years. When I got them we were living in an old house built in 1920 and we were in the process of (slowly) renovating it. So, everything stayed in boxes. Before we could finish renovating that house, we moved to Charleston and lived in a rental house for a year and a half, so a lot of things still stayed in boxes. We just moved into a new house in June and I'm (slowly) getting things out of boxes. Sometimes I discover things I didn't even know I had!

The other thing I'm working on crossing off of my list this week is not eating out for a whole week. So far so good... although it's only been 3 days! My biggest weakness with eating out has been lunches. I always feel like I don't have anything for lunch or know what to buy for lunch. I've been trying to stay away from processed lunch meats, but I still need something easy for myself and for Andy. I was definitely wasting the most money by eating out for lunch 2-3 days a week. The saving money part does feel good. I've hardly spent any money this week. I've just been getting more creative with what we already had in our pantry and fridge. Hopefully I can keep it up!

Monday, January 11, 2010

How to Organize a Pantry

I feel like a weight has been lifted! I FINALLY got my pantry organized! The first two pictures are the "before" and the last two are the "after." Things were just thrown in there every which way and I could never find what I was looking for. Until recently, I just tried to ignore it. I knew I was wasting money buying things I probably already had, but I wasn't motivated to sort it all out. It finally got to the point where it was driving me crazy over Christmas. We had family in town and every time someone asked if we had sugar or creamer or honey, etc. I would frantically search through the pantry because I knew we had whatever they were looking for... buried... somewhere under the taco seasoning...

Seriously though, it was embarrassing. And it really did stress me out. Besides, there really isn't any point in me couponing if I don't know what I have in my cupboards (or a place to put all the things I'm scoring awesome deals on!) So, today I finally conquered the pantry clutter!

Here is what I did:

1. Searched YouTube for a video under "How to Organize a Pantry"
2. Watched it
3. Did what the organizational guru in the video said to do

First I took everything out of the pantry. Next I had to add in my own step that they didn't mention on the video... vacuum the pantry floor. I had several pieces of dry pasta that had fallen out of a bag all over the pantry floor, along with colored sprinkles from a jar that had opened and everything was snuggled in with some dust bunnies. So, that all had to go. Then I grouped everything I had laid out on my table by the following categories:

Baking ingredients
Canned fruits and vegetables
Dried Pasta, rice & beans
Dressings and marinades
Spices (the ones that aren't part of our spice rack)
My pantry is pretty bare so you might have more categories to sort by.

Then I started putting everything back into the pantry in groups. I ended up going to Walmart and getting two inexpensive fabric bins for snacks. One for family snacks and one for my son's snacks. I also added some wire racks to the back of the pantry doors. I decided to put all of our canned goods on the large rack and our tinfoil, freezer bags and cling wrap on the other. We also had one of those grocery bag holders from our old house that I hadn't hung up yet, so I mounted that to the wall. I also painted the inner part of the raised panel on the door with some black chalkboard paint so that I have a place to make a list of things we are running low on or almost out of.

Overall, I'm SUPER pleased with myself. I feel like this huge area of stress has just been eliminated. I'm already meal planning in my head with things from the pantry that I didn't even know we had!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My love/hate relationship with Metformin

My grand plan for today was to organize my pantry after Andy went down for his nap this afternoon... but things didn't quite work out that way. First of all, I'm single parenting this week while my husband is away for a for work until Friday. I dropped him off at the airport at 12:30 and came home to put Andy down for a nap, all excited to get started on that pantry! Of course, that was right when my husband called from the airport to say he had a message from our tenant that his hot water wasn't working. FANTASTIC! Now, I must say that I am pretty darn handy when it comes to working on the house (or our rental houses) but I am NOT the plumber of the family!! My husband handles all of that! When I called the tenant I found out that NO water was coming out of the faucet when he turned the hot water on. Of course I totally panicked and assumed a pipe had frozen and burst in the crawl space and water must be gushing everywhere. For some unfathomable reason it's been below freezing here at night for several days now. (we live in Charleston, SC... COME ON NOW!!!) So, Matt was on a plane and Andy was sleeping and I was freaking out. Roto Rooter said they would add us to the list of people with frozen pipes and I was completely panicked at how much they would charge me for a Sunday visit.
Well, God bless my brother and his fiance. My brother drove me over to the house to check things out while his fiance stayed at my house while Andy napped.
The pipe had been frozen, but not burst. When we got there it was pretty much thawed out. The hot water was working again - although there was a small leak on the hot water heater - and a friend who is a licensed plumber returned my call, wasn't doing anything and came over and fixed it for me.
Crisis averted!
But of course this fiasco entirely killed my nap time plans! So, I'm crossing something else off my list instead. I've started taking my Metformin every day. I started last night. The reason this is a big deal and I have been putting it off is because the last time I was on it (when we were trying to conceive) I felt sick for the first 4-6 weeks. So, you can understand my reluctance to want to voluntarily start taking it again. When does it ever seem like a good time to feel sick? Metformin is actually a diabetes drug that helps regulate insulin levels, but it is often prescribed for patients with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I took the Metformin starting a month and a half before we conceived all the way through to the end of my first trimester when I was pregnant with Andy.
I feel like I need to start taking it again now to start getting my body ready for when we decide we are ready to try for #2. I hate having to take a daily medication and I hate how sick I will feel for this first month, but after that, I know I will love how much it will help regulate my hormones and also, it does help me to lose weight. I find that when I'm on it, I rarely crave anything sweet. This is TOTALLY opposite my normal self! Ha ha! If I do eat anything sweet, I will feel really sick after. It helps curb my craving for cookies or cake or brownies or any other yummy baked good.
I think that the Metformin is the best treatment for me for my PCOS when I combine it with a better diet and with exercise. I just need to find other things to occupy my mind this first month. Tonight I clipped coupons and now I'm drinking my green tea and then heading to bed. Hopefully there won't be any bumps in the road tomorrow so that I can get this disaster of a house cleaned tomorrow during nap time!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My First Adventure in Couponing

Okay, so this isn't something that was on my list, but it's something that I have really been reading up on a lot and really want to get good at! Last Sunday I bought two Sunday papers and clipped all the coupons for products that my family uses. I organized them by category in baseball card holders in a binder. I think this method is the one that will work the best for me. I then went through the sales fliers of 3 grocery stores near me as well as CVS and Walgreens and matched coupons with items already on sale or items that had store coupons offered as well.

I ended up going on Thursday night to do my grocery shopping. This was a mistake because the grocery store I went to ended up being sold out of a lot of the items I had coupons for the best deals on. Probably because they were doing super double coupons and doubling them up to $2.00 each. So, I'm sure a lot of other people had the same idea as I did ~ and they all beat me to it! Now, I know that I could get rain checks for the items they were sold out of, but this is the grocery store furthest from my house, and it just wasn't worth the drive all the way back over there for those few items. I'm sure the same good sales will come around again and next time I'll be more prepared!

Now, this was only my first week clipping coupons, so I didn't have a good base to pull from, but I think I still did okay. My total before coupons rung up at $214. I have to say that I was slightly panicked that I didn't calculate right and was going to end up paying close to $200 for groceries...BUT... after she scanned all of the coupons and they were doubled up to $2.00... it took ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN DOLLARS off of my total!!!! With tax I ended up paying $104 and change. I was totally shocked!

Of course my goal is to get to the point where I'm buying only $75 worth of groceries and paying around $35 or so. But I don't have a stock pile yet, so I'm working on that now. My current monthly grocery budget is $75 per week. Even though I spent $104 this past week, there is no way I would need to spend anything more than $25 on perishables (if that!) this upcoming week.

I took a picture of everything I got on my trip. The best part was all of the meat I got for practically nothing! I got 3 bags of frozen shrimp for the price of 1 (this was a HUGE contributing factor to the total price. Those bags of shrimp are normally $25 a piece) and I got 2 lbs of ground turkey at less than half price and I got 5 and a half pounds of chicken for the price of 1 and half pounds. I'm pretty pleased with myself. Pleased enough that I'm making tomorrow's item to cross off my checklist "Organizing the Pantry" because I need someplace to put everything and I need to have a good inventory of what I already have. I'll post before and after pictures of that as well... because that sucker is a TOTAL disaster!!!


Yesterday I crossed off "drink a cup of green tea every night" from my list. I crossed it off because I know I'll have no problem doing that every night. I'm trying to slowly start establishing a night time ritual and drinking a cup of tea is one of the things I'd like to incorporate. Now, I do find regular green tea a little too bitter for my taste, but I really like (well, not really like in the way I would really like regular tea with milk & sugar... but as far as green tea goes...) this Tazo Zen green tea ( It's blended with lemongrass & spearmint. I think it's the spearmint that does it for me. Anyway, I'm not drinking this every night because I want the ritual of drinking tea, but because it's supposed to help with fertility.

I think that I've started nesting.

I'm finding myself realizing that I'm going to be ready to start trying for baby #2 in a few months and it has triggered that nesting instinct in my brain already. I'm finding myself craving organization and am starting to feel honestly ready to start watching what I eat so that I can get my weight down to a healthy BMI range.

It took us two years to get pregnant with Andy and we were only able to conceive after I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and I started taking 1500 mgs of Metformin a day and did one round of Clomid. I would like to conceive without Clomid this second time around if at all possible. It was one thing to risk multiples the first time, but it just feels more risky now that we have a toddler running around at home!

I honestly feel that my body will respond appropriately and ovulate monthly if I can get the weight off, exercise reguarly, keep my refined carb intake very low and take my Metformin. It is hard for me to start all of that at once, so I am taking small steps one at a time to get there. I want to feel like I have done everything I can to get my body ready for a second pregnancy before we make the decision to "pull the goalie." Although when we actually make that decision is still up for debate!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Yes, we are that crazy family with 3 dogs and a cat!

I just crossed today's item off my check list. I finally called and made a vet appointment for Callie for her annual check up. She's a little overdue. The hardest part about having 3 dogs and a cat (he's just going to have to go on next month's list!) is definitely the expense! Of course they are all 3 due around the same time every year for their annual exams and they are all 9 years old now so of course they always want to do bloodwork, etc. and I can never afford it so I always say I'll set up a separate appointment for that... and then never do. I have a monthly amount in our budget for pet expenses, but I never actually set that money aside every month. That is really what I need to be doing. We have an account already that I could use for that. Maybe I need to set up an automatic transfer or something - even weekly if that makes it easier - so that I won't spend that money on other things.

I had two dogs when I met my husband and then he got one shortly after we started dating. Of course I love them all dearly, but I know we won't ever have 3 dogs again. It's difficult when we travel as well, paying for care for them all and dealing with the dog hair from a house that hasn't been vacuumed since we left!

Last night and today I've been feeling very overwhelmed with all that I feel like I need to do to get caught up on my own life. I keep feeling like if I can work a little bit each day on simplifying my life, I will eventually get to the point where it becomes easier to just maintain. It's been harder than normal for some reason though to remind myself of that lately. I think that part of it might be that I am frustrated with myself for letting things go for so long and it just seems like too much to focus on. I know I am doing the right thing by tackling one thing a day, and I certainly feel a sense of accomplishment just making it 7 days so far (and p.s. I STILL haven't had any Coke... go me!! ... even when faced with temptation) but some days are still hard. So, today I picked a little thing on my list, so that I could focus the rest of my time on catching up on cleaning and laundry. Oh, and I baked a chocolate cake :-) That made me feel much better! ha ha

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Yesterday I crossed another item off my list ~ following up with the health insurance company about my MRI. I had a breast cancer scare in October and the breast specialist I was sent to see ordered a mammogram and a breast ultrasound. Both were negative, however, I apparently have very dense breasts and the radiologist was concerned because he didn't see what he thought he would on the ultrasound, so he sent me for a breast MRI to rule out inflammatory breast cancer. IBC is the most aggressive form of breast cancer, and also the most rare. The other scary thing about it is that more often than not, it's not detected on a mammogram. Most people have probably never heard about IBC and would have no idea what the signs and symptoms are. I highly suggest that you read the symptoms here:

I was acutely aware of the symptoms and the aggressiveness of IBC because my cousin battled against it for nine years before passing away this past August. She was only 41. Fortunately for me, all of my test results came back negative and I will go for a follow up mammogram and visit with the breast specialist in June. My health insurance company however is saying that the MRI was not medically necessary because it was "investigational and/or experimental". So, I'm having to appeal and had to have my doctor send a letter with additional information, etc.
So, I followed up yesterday and found out that my claim has been sent out for "outside medical review" and I should know by the middle of January what their decision is. I'm praying that they will cover the test because we will be hard pressed to pay for that out of pocket. It's frustrating feeling like something so big is out of your control, but given the alternative, I'd rather pay that medical bill and have negative test results than the other way around.

My Very Bare House

Well, today I finally got all of the Christmas decorations down and packed away. I took the tree down 2 days ago and packed up all of the ornaments, but things didn't start to look so bare until tonight. I even took down the wreaths and all of the lights outside. The outside of the house is back to it's boring, non-festive self. Since moving into the house in July, I still have yet to get anything up on the walls, so it was nice to have Christmas decorations to fill the void.
Since I've been making it my goal lately to try and do things that the future me will appreciate, even if I'm tired and want to take the shortest route possible to getting things done, I very strategically packed all of the lights, ornaments and decorations this year. I actually went to Walmart the morning after Christmas and bought several of the red and green rubermaid containers, wreath holders and ornament holders. Although this was an investment, I did get it all on sale, and this is the only time I'll have to buy them. The end result is that I'm super pleased with having everything organized in color coordinated containers that are easily stackable. I even put all of the strings of lights in zip lock bags and labeled them so that we will know right where each strand goes outside next year when we lug everything back out!

I did have some of my Christmas stuff in large rubbermaid containers before, but I decided to buy new red and green ones for the Christmas storage and use the old ones for my recycling bins. Starting my home recycling center is on the list of goals for January, so at least now I already have my containers.

The next step will be actually storing all of the containers away. I would really rather not store them in the garage and since we live in the "Lowcountry" we don't have a basement, but we do have a coat closet that backs up to the stairs and I know there is a whole bunch of space under our stairs just waiting to be tapped into... so Matt... if you are reading this, feel free to cut a hole in the wall at the back of that closet so that I can use it for storage space!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Baby Steps

So, yesterday I finally put my re-usable grocery bags in the back of my car. The bags have just been sitting in a closet for over a year. Occasionally I'll use them to throw some of my son's toys in if we are traveling, but generally, they go unused. Meanwhile, we have a gazillion plastic grocery bags piling up in the cabinet under our kitchen sink! I actually have a thing to mount on the wall to hold all of those (because we do have 3 dogs... we need some for poop bags on walks) but that will come when I organize the pantry. I'm planning to mount it in there.
Anyway... I put the grocery bags on the floor in the back seat of the car on the side that I usually get my son out of his car seat. I'm hoping that I will have no trouble remembering to actually bring them inside and use them!

I'm noticing that a funny thing is happening as I work my way through this list... I'm starting to work on other things not even on the list yet a little bit at a time. I really thought that this would be a way for me to not feel overwhelmed because I'd only HAVE to do one thing a day, but I'm finding that I'm accomplishing my one thing and then working a little bit on some of the "bigger picture" items. For instance, I'm really wanting to start becoming good at using coupons. I'm just starting to read up on the best methods, etc. There are a TON of blogs out there to read about couponing. I'll have to compile a list of my favorites once I really get into it.

Tonight I just finished writing, addressing and mailing all of our thank you notes from Christmas. I am absolutely terrible at procrastinating on thank you notes. I feel incredibly guilty that I never sent them for my son's first birthday (which was at the end of August), but after a certain amount of time I kind of just said "forget it!" It still nags me though. The funny thing is that it takes an average of about 3 minutes to do each note. Really, it isn't hard! I don't know why I always put that off. Especially considering how good it feels to get it done! I even just walked up the street to the mail box at 9:45 p.m. in the 30 degree weather to put them in the mail. I know myself well enough to know that if I didn't do it right then that they had a 99.9% chance of sitting on my counter all week waiting to go to the mail box.

I have to say, I'm pretty proud of myself for the things I've gotten done so far. My son has had an ear infection and then an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin and I haven't slept through the night in almost a week, so I'm exhausted. BUT... I've been catching up on laundry and housework since our family left on Sunday and still knocking things off my list. I know that the old me would have been laying on the couch watching TV instead and just feeling stressed that nothing was getting done. That said, I am really tired and definitely need to go get some sleep!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Team in Training

Well, I'm pleased to say that I FINALLY got my Team in Training support letters mailed out yesterday. That was for sure something that I should have done back in September, but just kept putting it off and putting it off. I even had all of the letters printed at the end of November and all of the mailing labels printed & stamps purchased at the beginning of December, but for some reason just kept procrastinating.
I'm running my first half marathon in February with Team in Training ( It's an awesome program that raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. My cousin Lisa passed away at the end of August after a 9 year battle with breast cancer. I am running in memory of her. I wish that they had a similar program here for breast cancer research, but Team in Training was the closest thing I could find. I'm actually really nervous about my run. I know I'll be doing run/walk intervals for the whole race, and I'm okay with that, but I'm still pretty anxious. I'm about half way to my fundraising goal, so I'm hoping that I can raise the rest of the money through donations from family and friends after they receive my support letters. If not, I'll start approaching local businesses for donation requests.
I'm proud of myself for signing up and following through on this. There hasn't been a whole lot that I feel like I've actually followed through on in the last several years. I'm hoping the changes I've been making recently are the start to finally breaking that pattern.
I have to say, it feels really good to finally cross something off my list that I should have done a while ago... I'm hoping that feeling will become addicting and I'll start clearing out my severe back log of "to-do" items!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Coke... Oh how I will miss you so!

Well, I guess I'm officially kicking my year off! Welcome 2010! In place of the usual can of coke I would have had by now I just took 2 Advil and a drank a glass of water to fight off the headache that I can only assume is due to lack of caffeine. Reading over my resolution list for the month, I'm realizing that some of the things seem like resolutions and some seem more like a to do list. The thing is, that they are things I have been putting off for a long time (some a VERY long time!) and they constantly nag at me. I think that most of my 365 (if I can come up with that many!) resolutions are going to fall into the same major categories:
1. Health & Weight Loss
2. Organization
3. Finances
4. Communication with Family & Friends
5. Spirituality

It will be interesting though to see how things evolve over the course of the year. My guess is that the first few months will be loaded with taking care of the backlog of things I've been neglecting to take care of for such a long time and then as the year goes on, I anticipate transitioning more to the emotional and spiritual side of my resolution aspirations.

I already know from reviewing my list that the two hardest things on there for me this month will be to give up Coke (That's why it's my first thing and I'm going to try to maintain it for the whole year) and to start taking my Metformin regularly. I've been putting that one off for forever because I will feel sick for the first 4-6 weeks that I'm on it and it never really seems like a "good" time to feel sick. I'm going to wait until our family leaves on Monday to start that though.

I would like to eventually get to the point where I can have a can of Coke as a treat, but I'm not really sure how long it will take me to get there. I've given up Coke before for stretches of time, although I don't think I've ever lasted a month, and then I tell myself I'll just have one... well, of course that just opens the door to start having one a week, which leads eventually to one a day, and if it's a Coke from a restaurant or drive through, then that's even worse!

I hope that by making this my very first resolution that I won't falter on it because then I'd feel like I failed at this whole experiment. This is my trick to making it stick!