Make-A-List Monday: Ten Easy Ways to Waste Money

April 16th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in SF - (Comments Off on Make-A-List Monday: Ten Easy Ways to Waste Money)

I have had a lot of people ask me how we can afford for me to stay home with our kids. My husband is a talented sheet metal installer and he works very hard, living in a small Mid-West town and raising three children, his income would be considered average at best.

So how do we do it? Out of necessity, we must be very savvy with every penny we spend and avoid wasting money on things that aren’t part of our long-term goals.

Most people spend money on things they absolutely do not need all the time. Yes, most of the time, it is easier or more fun to buy these things. If you can truly afford it, then why not? But if you are looking to save a little or want to stay home with your kids, here are some ideas to cut costs.

We avoid these to keep our monthly budget balanced:

1. Bottled Water

I read that bottled water is more acidic than regular filtered or tap water, but I don’t know any specifics. If you don’t like regular tap water, a Brita or Pur water filter is the cheap way to go. We have one, and we refill Tupperware water bottles and put them in the fridge so it has that straight-from-the-fridge coldness.

2. Coffee

And by this I mean something such as Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. Sure, it takes a little extra effort, but coffee at home can be just as good with all of the creamer choices out now. We really enjoy International Delight’s Carmel Macchiato in coffee, and I make chai tea lattes with Lipton’s Spicy Chai Tea and Aldi brand french vanilla creamer.

3. Name Brand Clothes

Especially for kids. Before I buy any clothes for my kids, I ask myself, “Can they play in the mud in this?” And if the answer is “No,” it goes back on the rack. I am a big fan of garage sales and thrift shops for kids’ clothes. Unless we’re buying clothes for a special occasion, we go inexpensive.

 

4. Too Much House

Tyler and I bought our first house when I was in my senior year of college in 2006, (what were we thinking?) and when we went to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan, we were told we could afford way more than we thought we could. Thankfully, we took the advice of our parents and Dave Ramsey, and ended up with a house that we can easily afford, even on just one income. A lot of people owe more on their house than it’s worth, thanks to the popping of the housing market bubble, and it’s more important than ever to buy a house that you can easily afford.

 

5. A New Car!

A brand new car is really exciting… or so I’ve heard. Many, many people define themselves by what they drive. But what is a car, really? A large appliance to get you from point A to point B. My 2000 Toyota Sienna with 164,000+ miles does that job just as well as a 2012 Cadillac Escalade. Yes, it’d be nice to have automatic doors and a DVD player, but I personally would rather be a stay-at-home mom than be a working mom with a nice car.

6. Restaurant Food

Yes, it’s easier. It’s wonderful to eat out at a restaurant for a special date or celebration, but I have seen more and more people relying on restaurant food for regular meals and never cooking at home. I have learned to come up with easy meals at home when I don’t feel like cooking (or run out of time) – including Hamburger Helper, frozen pizza, Stouffer’s Lasagna, frozen meatballs (which seem to make spaghetti night slightly fancier), and Crock Pot meals. Stay tuned, I’ll be posting a few of my easy recipes in the next few weeks.

7. Cable TV

Many see this as a necessity, but is it really? We do have basic cable at our house, which runs about $14 per month, but that’s only because we get a discount because we have our internet with the same company. With just a converter box, we can receive CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, several PBS stations, and our local channels. TV is just a form of entertainment, and if you watch less of it, think how many productive things you could get done.

 

8. A Land Line Telephone

The use of the land line is dying now that we are in the smart phone age. I admit, we actually have a land line because my hubby didn’t have a cell phone for several years, and now it’s hard to give up the number. However, I have heard that it’s possible to port a land line number to a cell phone. If anyone has any additional information, let me know and I’ll post it here.

 

 

Ugly kitchen, cute baby. This is Peach when she was about a year old. Notice the orange-y colored cabinets, the mint green inside, and the lovely brown and light brown vinyl.

9. Mistaking ‘Wants’ for ‘Needs’

We need want a new kitchen. We have lived in our house, with our hideous kitchen, for over six years, and we are still hoping to get it done sometime in the next year. Is our kitchen ugly? Yes. But is it functional and clean? Yes. A total kitchen remodel is something we are planning on in the next year, but it is not something we “need”.

 

10. Not Having a Written Budget

This may be the biggest one. We went for years never really having any idea where our money went each month. With a written budget, you can plan exactly where all of your money will go before the month even gets started. That way there’s no guilt when buying anything because you already know you can afford it.

 

Bonus #11. Financing instead of Saving

This goes right along with having a written budget. For our new kitchen, are we going to get a Home Depot credit card at 0% interest for however many months? No. We are starting a sinking fund, where we put a set amount money away every month to save for it. We will treat it just like a bill so that we can reach our financial and home remodeling goals.

 

These are just a few ways our family saves money so I can stay at home with our young children. What are some other good ways you save money to accomplish your goals?

Funny Friday – The Grammar Nerd

April 13th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Funny Friday - (7 Comments)

Yes, that’s me. I have been known lovingly as a grammar nerd, a grammar cop, and even the grammar nazi by my honey. I get it, it’s difficult to type everything out in texts or even from your phone to Facebook, but when a reputable news source starts making grammatical errors, I start getting “grinchy”. And sure, I’m not perfect, but I appreciate when basic grammatical rules are followed. If you ever find any basic errors on this website, please feel free to correct me!

A short lesson:

it’s = it is
its = possessive form of “it” (referring to something that belongs to “it”)

there = refers to location (There it is!)
they’re = they are
their = possessive form of they (belonging to them)

your = possessive form of you (belonging to you)
you’re = you are

two = the number 2
to = preposition used before a noun or verb as an infinitive (We are going to the store. We are going to leave now.)
too = also (I love you, too.)

who’s = who is
whose = possessive form of who/whom

These are the few that were at the top of my mind today. Which bother you the most?

To relieve some stress from my mind, here are a few graphics from someecards and one from Piccsy.

Does bad grammar bother you? Which grammatical errors bug you the most?

Good Friday – What Love Really Means

April 6th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (2 Comments)

Today is Good Friday, the day all Christians commemorate the passion and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. What He did on the cross was THE ultimate act of love, so let us remember today and always that we are NOTHING without Him. He was perfect in every way, never having sinned even once, and He willingly allowed Himself to be nailed to the cross for your sins, for my sins, for the sins of the entire world, past, present, and future. That’s what Love really means.

Lord, You are all that is good, our Creator, and our Redeemer. We are sorry for the sins we have committed that nailed You to the cross. Words cannot express the gratitude we have for Your sacrifice. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Please help us to always appreciate the gift of Your grace, and keep us close to You always. Amen.

Here’s a free printable to help us remember what Love really is.

Click on the image to enlarge. This is for personal use only. Please don’t crop out the website at the bottom.

Thank you, and have a blessed Good Friday.

All winter, every winter, my unused back porch turns into a catch-all room, a storage room, gathering dust and odds and ends including old lamps, stuff for Salvation Army, and who knows what else? Yesterday I spent naptime moving furniture and stuff, vacuuming, scrubbing and DE-CLUTTERING. It feels so good to have my cute little porch back.

Here’s the shameful before picture with a winter’s worth of junk:

Yikes! That's embarrassing... and this is the entrance we and guests use every time.

The view from the back door. Layers of dust and junk. I do like the bamboo shades though.

I included this one because you can really see the dust build-up under the bench. It's awful. Why am I posting these on the internet?! What is wrong with me?!

Okay, so here are the after pictures that (somewhat) redeem me as a wife, mother, and human being.

Aaaah. Much better. It's all scrubbed, washed, vacuumed. Much, much better.

This is a doll clothes armoire I had when I was a little girl. I love it as an end table!

No more dust under that bench!

Won’t my mommy be so proud of me?

Have a great weekend!

My extremely entertaining brother-in-law is “Average Dan” on Fox 23 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A few months ago, he shot a series of promotional videos, some of which I’ve included here. Be sure to check him out on Fox 23 and click here to read his reviews of above average businesses in the Tulsa area.

The maniacs and I spent at least a half hour the other day watching the ten second commercials over and over and over. And laughing.

The five second rule should not be questioned. You can tell its a rule. How? Because of the way it is. Deal with it.

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Sneezing is a serious health condition. Do it carefully and responsibly.

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On Average, people laugh 17 times a day. In order to reach my daily laugh quota, sometimes I have to find a loophole, so I made this video for those days when I need a pinch-hitter and don’t feel like chuckling one bit.

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Make-A-List Monday – Quotable Kids

March 26th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Kids | Make-A-List Monday - (Comments Off on Make-A-List Monday – Quotable Kids)

Our three maniacs, from left to right, TT(4 1/2), Vanilla(15 mo.), and Peach(2 1/2). And yes, the two big kids crawl themselves into Vanilla's crib almost every morning and all three jump... Don't judge me.

On my other, extremely neglected blog, I attempted to keep track of funny or insightful things my kids said because they are constantly coming up with new gems. However, I often hear them say something, laugh about it and tell their dad, then forget about it. Today is redemption for my other blog, Out of the Mouths of Maniacs.

Here are some glimpses from that website as well as some new stuff the maniacs have been telling me lately.

1. After we returned home from vacation – TT: Mom, I just want you to be home for one day then go on vacation again.

2. Dad: What do you want to be when you grow up, buddy?
TT (age 4): What do I want to be when I grow up? Hmmmm…. A husband!

3.  Peach, our two and a half year old, has several nicknames for her little sister, and we don’t know where any of them came from. They are: Cakes, Quakes, and Little You-ee-high.

4. Lately, our baby, who is now 15 months old, has been saying, “Hi Peach!” and “Hi Sase!” (talking to her brother).

5. TT (age 4): Mom, you know how I can fly like Superman?
Me: How?
TT: I can get a cape on my back and a stick on my crotch and fly away!
Me: A stick on your WHAT?
TT: On my crotch. You know, like Harry Potter.

6. Peach (age 2, after painting her toenails hot pink): Mom, can I take my pink toes to bed with me?

7. Then there’s this conversation between a plastic goat and a plastic horse (via my two-year-old):
Goat: I love you.
Horse: Well, I love you too. Let’s run away from the hyheenas!

8. TT: That grape was disgusting. It tasted like yard.
Me: How do you know what “yard” tastes like?
Crickets, crickets.

9. As I’m wiping my four-year-old’s butt – TT: Mommy, I think you are just gorgeous!

10. Peach: I can do whatever I want!
TT: (in a very calm tone) No, you cannot do whatever you want. You are a child.

Which is your favorite? What are some awesome things your kids have said lately (or ever)?

Pledge to Wear Black on Fridays to End Abortion in America

March 25th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Kids - (Comments Off on Pledge to Wear Black on Fridays to End Abortion in America)

AbortionBlackout.com is turning into a movement in the United States. Their short video (click below to view) explains simple statistics regarding abortions. It’s heartbreaking to realize how many children we’ve lost to abortion just in the last 30+ years.

Even if you feel you can’t participate in the Abortion Blackout each Friday, please pray for the children lost to abortion, their mothers and fathers who are probably suffering, and the healthcare professionals that they may have a change of heart.

Thank you Father Daren for bringing this movement to my attention. Feel free to reblog, share on Facebook, Pin It, Tweet about it, just spread the news about the Abortion Blackout.

Okay, so this bag I keep in my van isn’t for actual emergencies, but more for normal “kid” emergencies. We were at a local indoor playground recently (Going Bonkers) and my newly potty trained two-year-old wet her pants. I frantically searched the diaper bag for anything that would fit her, then ran out to the van while my little girl cried quietly because she still wanted to play.

Out in the van, the only thing I could find was a pair of gym shorts (and it was below freezing out) that my four-year-old hadn’t quite grown into yet. Why did I have shorts in my van in the middle of January? Because sometimes I can be a bit way too unorganized, and this pair happened to fall out of a bag of hand-me-downs we had received from another family.

I brought the shorts, thinking we were just going to have to make them work, when a good Samaritan–another mom I barely know–offered her son’s extra pair of sweat pants without a second thought. All I could do was keep saying, “Thank you! Thank you so much!” And thinking to myself, “I wish I was her right now. I wish I was smart enough to have extra clothes for my kids. Why am I NOT a type-A personality?!”

Then I discovered that it doesn’t take a type-A personality to put together a kid emergency bag. Here’s what’s in mine:

The Van Emergency Bag for Kids

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Extra set of clothes for each kid, including socks and underwear
  • Jacket or sweater for each kid
  • Jammies for the baby

I just put it all in a bag, and it stays in the trunk of my van. Easy as pie! (I never understood this saying… it’s not really that easy to make pie.)

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I also found a car emergency kit placed in an adorably decorated plastic wipes case on the blog Rips in My Jeans (found via Pinterest, of course!). So I decided to make my own. Since I know I’ll never make the time to actually cover the box in cute fabrics, I’m just using Tupperware. Here’s what’s in my box:

The Van Emergency Box

I like that the Tupperware is clear so I can see everything inside without taking off the lid. This piece is a square #2 Modular Mate with a blue lid.

  • grocery bag for trash
  • hand sanitizer
  • Wet Ones
  • ibuprofen
  • lotion
  • white petroleum jelly (good to use for diaper rash cream or lip balm or for small cuts)
  • tissues
  • a safety pin
  • a small amount of cash & change
  • non-perishable snacks (I have Craisins)
  • a hair tie
  • a pen
  • bubbles (my maniacs go absolutely nuts for bubbles)
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Now I can feel like one of those actually-making-Pinterest-projects, wore-her-skinny-jeans-home-from-the-hospital, super-organized-tidy-house b moms… even though I’m really not.

Funny Friday – The Round-Up Kid

March 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Funny Friday | Kids - (Comments Off on Funny Friday – The Round-Up Kid)

Last Friday my four-year-old son TT and I went to Kindergarten Round-Up. He’ll be attending our parish’s Catholic school, and he was pretty excited about the whole thing. My favorite quote: “Mom, you promised it was going to be so fun, and it was!” So now, even though I know I’ll be sad once August gets here, I know in my heart he’ll be well taken care of and happy when he’s at school ALL DAY next year.

Here are some shots of him after we got home from Kindergarten Round-Up:

My soon-to-be kindergartener with his new hat, handkerchief, necklace, and badge from the "Round-Up". Giddy-up partner!

Gram watched the girls while TT and I went to Kindergarten Round-Up, so she deserved a picture with the new cowboy hat.

TT sure loves his Gram. He cried when we figured out she was babysitting his sisters, but not him.

Me and V. She's still bald, but she ain't a baby. At 15 months, she's running all over the place and still cute as a button.

Okay, so this wasn’t the classic hilarious funny Friday, but a girl’s gotta show off her kids sometimes… right? 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

The Saturday Spruce-Up – Trading "Luck of the Irish" for Faith

March 17th, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | The Saturday Spruce-Up - (Comments Off on The Saturday Spruce-Up – Trading "Luck of the Irish" for Faith)

Today’s Saturday Spruce-Up is a quick fix in attitude and outlook on the wonderful holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. Jeff Cavins, a reputable Catholic author and speaker, posted this on Facebook today (with my highlights in bold).

Today we are giving up the “Luck of the Irish” for the “Faith of the Irish”.Photo courtesy of Jeff Cavins' facebook page

How many times have you discussed with your spouse or colleague what you would do if you won the Powerball? You can get lost in that dream world of “what if.”

Projecting out into the future what life would be like if you had the winning numbers, creates an illusion that more than likely will never come true. Instead of putting your hope in the lottery, put your hope in the same God that St. Patrick put his hope in.
Today for Lent, let’s emphasize that we are not dependent upon luck, such as Powerball and pulltabs but the providence of God and His faithfulness. 

Jeremiah the prophet said, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
There are things in life that are more important than material things. Jeremiah goes on to say, “There is hope for your future, says the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country (Jeremiah 31:17).

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

Just to show you how serious I am about this, I’m not even eating Lucky Charms for breakfast today.

PS: The Irish have a longstanding history of spreading the Catholic faith around the world. We need to pray for our Catholic brothers and sisters in Ireland today.

My own plans fall through all the time, but I trust in God that He knows what He’s doing, and He’ll take care of me. Why Catholic? this year is focused on prayer. Last week and the next few weeks, we are focusing on the “Our Father”. Although many of us can recite it without even thinking about it, the challenge is to really think about each line and what it means. Pray with me (and think about each line!)

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen. 

“Thy will be done” is the phrase I’m focusing on this week. Which parts of the “Our Father” are the most challenging to you? Which parts comfort you?