Monday, November 21, 2011

With my mind on my money and my money on my mind

I hate budgeting. I hate thinking about money, nor am I good at it. I guess there are very few people who like watching their pennies, but sometimes I wish I was someone who could get satisfaction seeing their balance grow dollar by dollar when saving money. But I am decidedly NOT one of those people.

Since we bought our house this summer, I am much more concerned about our finances. Actually, moving to a mortgage helped bring down our monthly payments, but now I have the future to worry about. How long will the roof last? We need a new water heater. The AC is on its last legs. I would love to add an outside entrance to the kitchen. The list goes on and on.

Most of the time I feel very lucky financially. I am able to stay home with Wiggle. We just bought a house. We have health insurance. We are able to have only one car, and that car is in good condition. So many families are not nearly in as good a situation as we are, especially right now. We are lucky, and I know that, but that doesn't mean that I can be careless with money. And there are still plenty of times when it would be really nice to do this AND that, but we will have to decide to do this OR that. Not really hardship, but as we approach the holidays, and we get closer to adding a new bambino to the family, and as I apply to go back to school officially, a little breathing room would be nice. This means that for the next few days, I will be looking at bills, going over receipts, trying to plan out upcoming expenses, and generally get mired in our money matters.

Afterward, I hope to have a better idea of where to and when the money is going out, and when I can expect to be able to do things like buy a new refrigerator or renovate the bathroom. I am not in a huge hurry because I don't envision having tons of time to manage any major projects in the next few years between school and the baby, but it would still be nice to know that I am working toward being able to make those changes.

It will also perhaps help me reign myself in a little more when I crave some retail therapy. I do not consider myself an extremely wasteful person, but I do have a hard time prioritizing my purchases sometimes. Also, when I need a jumpstart even though I have a million things I could do around the house for free, I would generally prefer to look for new towels or try look for the exact-sized basket for that shelf that is clearly standing between me and complete and total organization, and therefore happiness. I couldn't grow up in Dallas and not have some of it rub off on me after all.

In order to curb my retail tendencies lately, I have turned to another Dallas favorite - make-up. Feeling down? Sequined purple nail polish or bright red lipstick do seem to help a little. If nothing else, they make cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming under the couch a little more glamorous.

Once I get the money thing figured out, I can move on to the master schedule that will allow me to fix-up the baby's room/empty it of clutter, finally finish our kitchen cabinets, read all of Game of Thrones, knit a few items, whip up a few Christmas gifts, finish going through all of our photos on the computer, and generally relax during the month-long Christmas break. I mean it's just a good schedule that I need, right? I can't imagine having to adjust my expectations. That couldn't possibly be the problem.

I guess it's gonna be awhile before "Satisfice" will be my middle name.

A little fall fun in the leaves

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Food for Thought

After three days of eating way too much candy, my body was starting to totally rebel. I was sluggish, my hips were hurting even more than usual, I was nauseous and downright cranky, so it was time for some real food. We went with one of our favorite recipes for fall and winter, Fried Eggs Over Warm Lentil Salad with Lardons. This is one of those recipes that is delicious, easy to make, and even includes some things that are good for you, but it's as comforting as homemade macaroni and cheese or similar artery clogging fare. We sub kale for the spinach and just add it to the water the lentils cook in and then add a little more vinegar at the end because kale is even more tasty with vinegar. I didn't take any pics because we wolfed it down before any rational thought about it could take place.

Wiggle ate his portion with gusto too; he especially liked stirring the runny egg yolk into his lentil mixture. He would say "goo, goo, gooey!" every time he stirred. That kind of makes it sound like he talks in baby talk, but let me assure you he does not.

Now that we have entered November, I am feeling a little backed up on all of the things I have to do. I have so much to do and it's so hard to keep track of all of it that I had to spend my precious library time this morning just getting things entered into my to-do list and calendar. And then, of course, the holidays are coming up, which I love and am looking forward to, but also involve planning ahead or we won't get to do a bunch of the things that I really look forward to every year.

I have been better about managing my expectations though. Normally, for Halloween I like to carve pumpkins, and this year we picked a few beauties for carving, but then Halloween arrived, and we hadn't carved them yet. I decided that carving didn't make a lot of sense anyway since Wiggle wouldn't get to carve his own, so we just decorated two of them in the 30 minutes before we went trick-or-treating. Wiggle loved it, they looked cute and festive, and we didn't have to take a family shower or mop the floors afterward. I'd call that a win.

I'm hoping I can come up with more shortcuts like that for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we still get to enjoy the festivities leading up to the holidays, but that we don't have so much on our plate that we can't enjoy them.
One thing I am looking forward to and will need some advance planning is Wiggle's advent calendar. Last year we did a chocolate one, and I'm not really into the idea of his getting 24 gifts leading up to a day where he gets a lot of gifts, but I saw this one with little boxes and couldn't resist.
YRSNÖ Advent calendar, Santa Claus Height: 17 ¾ "  Height: 45 cm
This awesome Santa is from IKEA.
I will put Hershey's kisses or the equivalent in at least a third of the days, but I'm having trouble thinking of things that can go in the rest of them that aren't immediate choking hazards. For 3or 4 of the days, I might have a note directing him toward a gift that would not fit in the box, like a felt ornament for his tree. He's totally into Christmas this year, so I'm pretty excited too; can you tell? Plus, we have a chimney for stockings! 

See? It's really easy to get ahead of myself. I still have tons of homework, a major paper, some home improvement tasks, and some baby preparation to get through before I can think about Christmas.

Right now, I will settle for getting through the weekend without taking a nap on both days. That would be another one I would put in the 'win' column right now.

Friday, October 28, 2011


More time has passed, more things are happening. I have gotten permission from my insurance company to have a home birth, which I am very excited about. The idea of being in my own house, in my own bed, and having Wiggle around the whole time is fantastic. Plus, I might do a water birth!

In other news, I am kicking butt in my two social work classes. Admittedly, the material itself is not particularly challenging, but getting all the assignments done with a toddler around makes even the simplest task challenging. Also, I am enjoying the classes which makes it a little easier to put in the late nights school requires.

Then we had a visit from C's mom and his Aunt M last weekend. We went to Shenandoah National Park and drove part of Skyline Drive to see the autumn leaves. It was spectacular. The weather was cool and crisp, the leaves were red and gold and rust, and the sun even managed to come out on the way home.
Two peas in a pod
Two guys in the woods
Enjoying the mountain views
The valley
A boy and his Nonna
The rest of the weekend was spent spoiling the boy with kisses and desserts, all of which he loved immensely.
The visit was too short, and we hope they are able to come back soon.

Then, of course, there's Halloween on Monday. Our little Wiggle decided he wanted to be a "monster from the deep," more specifically an angler fish. In case you didn't already know this, there aren't a lot of angler fish costumes available at stores or even online. So in the grand tradition of parents everywhere, I made a costume and stayed up way too late fighting the beast that is my sewing machine. He hasn't been that into wearing the hat/lure that truly makes an angler fish, but that's ok because he absolutely loves his costume.

He has worn it non-stop for the past two days and spontaneously stops and thanks me for making it every few hours. Totally worth it.

Hopefully, this weekend will have more Halloween-y goodness which will mean more pics and more updates.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


So, I haven't posted in 4 months. Yikes! It really doesn't seem like it could be that long, but maybe that's because this summer was b-u-s-y.

What's new, you ask? Well, let's see. We moved into our new house! We are expecting a another baby boy in January! Wiggle started school! And I started graduate school!

That gets me off the hook of posting for at least a couple of months, right?

I would love to say that during my absence I have been really good about taking pictures, but instead I have woefully neglected most of the wonderful, fun things we did along the way. Now that fall is here and we are finally on something that resembles a schedule, I hope to remedy that problem.

I do have a couple of recent pics to share.

Wiggle waiting somewhat impatiently for Justin Roberts
 to play at the National Book Festival at the National Mall

Cutting out a flower before bedtime. Who doesn't love a little late-night craft-time?
I really need to take pictures of the house, but it is in total disarray most of the time. While we definitely have more room in this house, things don't fit as logically as before, so we keep moving big pieces of furniture around, some of which normally hold things, but we have kept empty in order to be able to move them around. This means that the house is both cluttered and that you'd better watch your shins at night because there's no telling where we might have moved that dresser during the day.

I keep feeling super behind in doing stuff to the house, but then I remind myself that we've only been in the house for a little over three weeks and some of this stuff is just going to take time. Also, adjusting to doing schoolwork with a toddler around, plus being pregnant deserves it's own adjustment period. Luckily, I am able to use Wiggle's preschool time to work on homework, but for papers and things I still need to carve time out of our evenings and weekends. Of course, C has a lot on his plate too, so we can often be found now in the evenings with the TV off, our respective computers and papers spread out around us in the family room. I really wish we had an office though; I find it very hard to transition to work at home without a defined space. Something else to add to the to-do list. Ugh.

I know I have said that I want to post more regularly before, but lately since we have been so busy, I have really felt like time is slipping by unnoticed. I want to take the time, not just to document it, but to reflect on what is going on in our lives right now. We only have a few more months of our little family of three, and while we are very excited to add a fourth, I will miss having Wiggle all to ourselves. He is not the only one who is going to have to get used to sharing!

Now, it's time to pick up Wiggle from preschool, then a nap for him, some cleaning for me, a playdate, a meeting with a potential midwife, making dinner, family dinner, putting the boyo down, some more reading, and then a little relaxation time with C. Just your typical Thursday.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality

I wouldn't normally say that my life is very busy. My days are certainly full and I certainly don't get done everything I want in a given day, but I can usually sneak in an extra load of laundry or a trip to the grocery store if I get behind in those things. What I mean to say is, as the stay-at-home mom of a toddler I don't have a lot of free-time, but I also don't generally have a long to-do list. I do things as they come up. When Wiggle is tearing around the house like a maniac, we abandon the "plan" of coloring and go to the park instead. If it's raining, we run errands, etc. The week is punctuated by a few scheduled activities, music class, playgroup, the occasional doctor's appt, but mostly we go with the flow.

So imagine my surprise at coming home from vacation and realizing that a huge mountain of things had piled up in my absence. First, even though I left the house relatively clean, a week's worth of cat's hair, which they are also shedding due to the excessive heat we had, was wandering around the house like tumbleweeds. Also, despite having done laundry before we left the cottage, it seemed like there were several loads left to do when we got home. Then, of course,there were bills and general budgeting after the free-spending of vacation.

Even more than the things that actually accumulated during the week we were gone, there are a bunch of things I've been meaning to get to, but hadn't actually attempted to get done. Restringing the patio umbrella I got on freecycle, taking the bag of culled through clothes that's been sitting on the stairs to Goodwill, mending this, putting away that. It turns out, I had really needed my vacation, and now that I am rested and recuperated, I can start getting to those things I had apparently been avoiding for most of the spring. Yea?

To keep that vacation feeling going though, we immediately joined the neighborhood pool, and I plan on spending many a late afternoon lounging around in the water or on a deck chair. Take that, to-do list!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How Many Days 'Til Vacation?

 Six. Six days until we meet C in Wood's Hole and stay in a little cottage on the water for a week. I can't wait.

Uncle M comes the day after tomorrow which I'm also super-excited about. I am in day six of having Wiggle on my own, and we have been having a great time (except for the hour and a half it took to get him down tonight. ugh).

Oh yeah, and we're trying to buy a house before we leave for vacation. I mean we're trying to get everything settled for the house we're trying to buy. It's a tight schedule though because the seller is driving across the country and won't get in town until Thursday, we still haven't signed contracts, C will be out of town for the whole thing, and the goal is to have a home inspection on Saturday. It's the beginning of a stressful week, so I am looking forward to vacation even more.

Here are some pics of my fun weekend with the boy.
Taking a walk in the woods
A quiet moment of reflection
Having fun straddling logs
Riding the carousel
It's starting!
We're going to ride a train!
Are you coming Mommy?
We broke down and watched Cars finally - he had to take Lightning McQueen to bed that night.
Making me wood chip sandwiches at the park
Apparently, I needed a lot of sandwiches.

I'm not ready to show the new house in case things don't go through, but I do want to show off it's location. In the picture above, I am standing in the playground directly behind our current house. The white inside the blue circle? That's the roof of what will be our new house. How sweet is that?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

M.A.S.H. Game

Nothing much has been going on, except some major house hunting. Although we've been looking for a little bit, the thought of actually taking on a mortgage has been stop-me-dead-in-my-tracks scary. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that people would see a house for a few minutes and then agree to buy it without ever getting to spend real time in it, talk to the previous owners, interrogate the neighbors, etc. It just seems like such a risk, and I don't really like risks. But then I fell in love with a house and the whole thing seems completely normal, the natural next step. In point of fact, the chances of us getting this house are pretty small for a number of reasons, but that's ok. I will learn to love again; the thing that changed was that I am now able to see myself in the houses I look at, whereas before I could only see the house itself, sometimes that was a good thing, but since no house is perfect, generally it was a hindrance to ever being able to decide on a particular house. I know it's a common first-time buyer mistake, but I kept thinking the perfect house would come along. Not perfect meaning without blemishes, but seeing every blemish as a beauty mark instead of a potential carcinoma. Now I think I'm ready to accept a house, warts and all. Of course, it'd be nice if I could find my warty house within the next few weeks, so we don't have to renew our lease at all, but if we don't, we don't. There's time.

Also, I've been having a little bit of an identity crisis lately. Not shockingly, being a housewife and full-time mother isn't always the most fulfilling job. Overall, it's still what I want to be doing now, but I need to remember how to be interesting.  I need to be more stimulated, but I've been feeling too frenetic lately to delve into anything. It's ok most of the time, but occasionally when I'm talking to people who don't have kids, I feel like we can't really have anything in common. I know that's not true, but so much of my day is kid-centered, and then even non-kid things are now colored by having kids. My priorities are always going to be different than someone without kids because my priorities are always going to involve Wiggle. He may not be number one all of the time, but he will always rank, and he can always trump anything else if needed. It's also hard to explain what you do during the day to someone else. Some days are actually busy, but most days a trip to the grocery store can either be a crowning achievement or the dismal dark nadir that colors the rest of the day. I need more balance, I guess.

All I can say is, I'm working on it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The News as of Late

Well, there isn't really news per se, but there have been goings on and such. Wiggle is putting us in hysterics for good parts of the day with his observations cute toddler sayings. Two weeks ago, we flew threw airport security trying to catch our flight back to VA. After going through the machines, we were one big mess of shoes, belts, computers, stroller, carseat, and bags. As C and I tried to put Humpty together again, Wiggle kept shouting "I want to pay for us again!" Only after all of our clothes were back on and bags were closed and secured did we realize that he meant he wanted to go through the security line and put all of our stuff on the conveyor belt again.
Since we made our flight, we spent a good few minutes giggling about that.

Last weekend we spent time in our community garden plot clearing the ground cover and trying to turn the thick. wet clay into rich drainable soil. It's a work in slow-progress due to the continued rain this weekend.

Today, Wiggle and I went to an Easter egg hunt at Fairfax City High School. The egg part was a crazy mass run that lasted all of two minutes, but we did manage to score four eggs in that time. We also got a balloon and went down a fun, bouncy slide.

The football field of eggs

Wiggle waiting to run onto the field

The loot
The loot inside the loot
Having fun on astroturf
Bouncy slide
Two boys and their balloons
Le ballon rose
C and I have, I think, given up all crazy dreams about living in Maryland or DC, and hope to live as close to campus as possible, so C can walk or bike to work, and we can see as much of him as we can during the week. The neighborhoods we're interested in seem doable, but very few properties seem to be on the market at any one time, so we may just have to sit back and wait for the right property to come along. I hate waiting for anything, let alone where we're going to live, but I'll survive.

In the meantime, it's spring. Things are blooming, songbirds are singing, kids are playing, and many, many things are right with the world.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

KC Weekend

We spent the weekend in KC with my in-laws. We had a good time, but Wiggle, Wiggle had a fantastic time! We saw animals, we saw trains, and we flew kites. Totally awesome.
A boy and his Pop-pop

Just a boy swinging

How does this pump work?

On my own

Trains! Trains! Trains!

I CAN go in there!
The nephew leading the uncle
Wiggle flying a kite
C trying to fly a kite

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Life is Cherry

It's cherry blossom time around here - sort of. It is, but we have had several nights of freezing weather, as well as a light snow since the trees have started to blossom, so things seem to be progressing a little more slowly than what I guess is usual.

We did manage to go out and get a few pics though, even in the less than ideal temperatures.
Here's a rare pic where Wiggle and I both have our eyes open and are looking at the camera. If looks could kill.... 
This is a not-so-rare one of C and Wiggle looking at the camera with their eyes open. I wonder what the difference could be?
My little mischievous Puck
Our best attempt of the day at a family photo.
The Washington Monument and some cherry blossoms
Just blossoms

For the dust jacket...

A rare shot of me and C together
My handsome guys
Me and Wiggle under a canopy of pink
The weekend also consisted of open houses, some good food, and lots of fun.