2010 Resolutions, Part February

Well, in January, I resolved to conserve by spending less, recycling more, and decluttering.  There were some high points, and there were some low points.  I did a pretty good job of recycling more.  I was already pretty good at it, but I took it a step further by meticulously sending all scrap paper, plastic, and glass to our recycling area in the mud room.  However, after Chris has sinus surgery mid-month, things started getting a bit crazy since it’s his job to take everything to the recycling center.  (For those of you who have pick-up in your town, you better be recycling everything like mad.  You just don’t know how good you’ve got it.)  When the cardboard piles got so high that I couldn’t get to the washing machine, I started losing my mind.  Still, I didn’t stop.

On the decluttering front, I sent a very large bag to Goodwill.  I know I can send more, but my January resolutions don’t stop in January.  If I can keep sending stuff every month, I should be in a much better place.  I’m going to try to reduce some of the pantry clutter in the mud room.  (That poor room is a catch-all: laundry room, pantry, recycling center, tool shed. Ugh.)  I have a hard time not stocking up on stuff when it goes on sale.  Okay, I have a hard time not stocking up on stuff even when it’s not on sale.

My financial conservation failed.  I really struggle with this area of my life.  I know it could always be worse; we’re not in debt over it.  However, it’s really limiting our potential.  We could invest more money into the business.  We could save and renovate the living room or kitchen.  I could pay off one of my student loans faster.  I need to get this area of my life under control.  It’s just hard.  I spend when I’m upset.  I spend when I’m bored.  I spend for fun.  My best approach is just not going out.  I honestly cannot leave the house without going to a store, and when it comes to going shopping for a specific item or list, well forget it…  A quick trip to Target for toilet paper turns into a $100 trip.

My resolution for February is to spend less.  I know that was one of my January resolution, but I think having those three tasks were too much to focus on at one time.  I’ll continue to recycle and declutter, but this month I’m going to focus on why I spend and how not to compulsively buy.  Instead of just trying to do better, I’m going to do some research and reading in order to better prepare myself to resist temptation.  I really would like to be content with what I have and spend less time thinking about what I want.  After all, I’ve been blessed beyond my expectation, and I have everything I need.  I need to spend less money and enjoy the riches that surround me.

2010 Resolutions

Ahhh…new year, new decade.  While some fantastic things came out of the last decade, it’s refreshing to know that the next decade will be spent with a wonderful man that I love and a beautiful daughter that I adore.  We definitely have lots of good things ahead of us and reasons to be thankful.

This year I’m going to do things a little differently with my resolutions.  I’ve recently started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  In her book, Rubin makes a list of monthly resolutions instead of a list of sweeping, grand ones for the entire year.  I think this is a brilliant idea.  It gives you a chance to really focus on your changes by honing why you want to make them and the specific details of the adjustments you need to make.

In January, I’m going to focus on Conservation.  I want to conserve my money, my attention, my waste, my mental energy, etc.  Basically, I just want to simplify my life.  I spend way too much time perusing the internet for things I want or checking Facebook and comparing my life with those from my past.  I would benefit from the mental clarity.  My daughter would benefit from the extra attention and play.  Chris & his business would benefit from the extra cash in our bank account.

I also want to recycle more.  Of course, by spending less, I’ll cut down on packaging waste.  But beyond that, I want to do more.  I’ve gotten pretty lazy about composting (though I’ve recently asked Chris to take on the job of dumping the compost bucket, and he’s doing a fabulous job).   Recycling clearly benefits the earthy, but it’s also important that I set a good example for my daughter.

Finally, I want to converse by decluttering.  I’m not really sure how to explain this as conserving, but I do know that too much stuff is taxing on my mental energy.   Removing it would reduce my day-to-day frustration.  Plus it would help me be aware of what I have and need.  Or maybe I can explain it as conserving (or reclaiming) space.  Either way, it’s my goal.

Because I need regular reminders of my goal, I’m going to make a check sheet of these individual goals and post them on the fridge.  If I perform them every day, I’ll give myself a check.  If not, I get nothing.  I’m hoping this visual reminder will inspire me to keep going.

So do y’all have any advice on how to conserve and simplify your life?  Did you make any New Years Resolutions?  If so, what were they?

I Called It Pop Until Everyone Made Fun of Me

This may be a bit random so bare with me.  I’m lying in bed with a sick kid and a laptop.  I’m not sure if that makes me a good mom or a weird internet obsessed mom, but until I get sleepy enough to drift off myself, we’re here.

Yesterday, I posted the following on my Facebook profile: “I gave up soda to set a good example for the baby, but now all I want is a Coke Zero. SO.BAD.”  That resulted in lots of comments telling me that I was insane for that choice. That is, perhaps, very true, but I really feel like it was the right thing to do. 

It definitely wasn’t  intended to condemn others. I LOVE soda.  I love it so much that I can consume a 12-pack in a day and never think about drinking a drop of water.  On the other hand, my body hates soda.  Artificial sweeteners give me a killer headahce - one that analgesics can’t touch - that remains until my body has processed all the fake sugar.   I guess I could drink non-diet drinks, but I don’t think we even need to go there on what they can do to your body.

However, this decision has nothing to do with the headaches or the other health concerns related to artificial sweeteners.  To tell the truth, I didn’t really care.  Those headaches suck, but the delicious taste of Diet Cherry Dr Pepper far outweighs the pain.  We’ve decided to cut out soda because of Cecilia.  You see, we’ve recently fell of the wagon - the healthy lifestyle wagon.  We’ve been eating junk food like it’s going out of style, and last week, I noticed Cecilia looking at me and signing “More” as I snuck Hershey’s Kiss in my mouth.  (”More” is her way of asking for a bite.) Also, when I’m drinking a soda, she points to the can and signs and says “Yes”.  (Sign Language is awesome for babies until you realize that they comprehend a lot more than you want to admit.)

I really don’t think soda is bad, and I don’t want her to think soda is bad.  It’s all about moderation, but unfortunately, Chris and I suck at moderation.  So until we can get that a mastered, I’m planning on keeping soda out of the house.  I’ll still have my caffeine (Thank you, God, for coffee), and there will be occasional Sonic runs (large Diet Cherry Dr Pepper & a small ice water, please).  But we’re going to keep the cans & plastic bottles out for a while.  Lord help me.

Budgeting

Two weeks ago, Chris and I sat down and made a budget for the first time since we’ve been married.  I know that’s shocking for some folks, but for the most part, we’ve been responsible spenders and always lived within our means.  Don’t get me wrong.  There’s been a month or two that we’ve had to tighten up our spending, but we’ve never had a set budget.  Last week was our first official budgeted week.  How did it go?  I FAILED.

It should be noted that I’m in charge of paying the bills and doing all the shopping.  Chris does a wonderful job supporting our family, but he’s not so good at checking the mail.  Before we were together, he only checked his mailbox when his mailman refused to attempt to stuff it with any more bills, letters, and magazines.  Needless to say, I do the mail checking and bill paying.  Of course, bills aren’t really the problem; it’s the shopping.  I have a really hard time keeping that in check.  Of course, it doesn’t help that my laptop was on it’s last leg and finally bit the dust last week.  That’s definitely pushed us over.

That brings me to the point of my post.  What do you do to keep your shopping in check (including all non-grocery purchases)?  I’m pretty good at keeping within my food budget, but I need help in other areas!

Filling My Time with a New Addiction

So what have I been doing while Chris spends the weekends working?  Feeding my new addiction - sewing.  Actually, I’ve been learning how to sew.  Well, rather, I’ve been watching my mother-in-law sew and occasionally sewing myself (when she makes me).  She’d probably dispute that and say that I’ve been doing most of the work.  She’s a nice lady but a liar.  Just kidding! (Not really.) (Okay, really.) Regardless, I figure we I should show off my work.

Cute pink dress from week 1:

052

Blue flower skirt (from these directions) from week 2:

blue skirt

Obviously we’ve focused on baby clothes. There’s a couple reason for this. 1. Baby clothes are smaller and require less fabric. Therefore, if we screw it up, it’s not as costly to toss it out. 2. It’s easier. 3. Baby girl clothes are freakin’ cute. 4. Homemade clothes aren’t as cute on adults. That being said, my mother-in-law, Mauvie, is working on a skirt for me, but I made no promises on wearing it in public. We had to do something with all the extra fabric because, if you didn’t know, one of the major side effects of sewing is an addiction to buying fabric.

Tired, Part 2

A few posts back I alluded to some changes that are taking place in our household that have indirectly taken away my time and creativity that I used for writing.  (Wait. Did I ever publish that post? I don’t remember.)  I figure it’s time to finally explain that.  A couple months ago, Chris and two of his guy friends/former co-workers (herein referred to as “The Dudes”) decided to start their own business.  I was and am very excited about this.  It’s something that I was encouraging Chris to do (specifically with The Dudes) long before they ever approached one another about it.  Unfortunately, without any capital or funding, everyone must continue working their regular day jobs while trying to get the business started.

Chris has been and continues to be a great father and manages his three full-time jobs (regular job, new business, daddy-job) very well.  However, there are times when something has to give, and often it’s the daddy-job.  Most Saturdays he asks for half a day of uninterrupted time to focus on the new business.  Sometimes he leaves the house and camps out a local coffee shop; sometimes Cecilia and I find things outside the house to do, like visiting the zoo or hanging with his parents.  Occasionally, he asks for entire weekends to focus on the business.  Overall, though, Chris has been making the most sacrifices.  He pulls all-nighters, has a midnight conference call with his contractors Sunday through Thursday, and works while rocking the baby to sleep.  Also, he sets all work aside for special occasions like our anniversary weekend or Cecilia’s birthday.

It’s been tough, but I think we’re making it work.  That’s not to say that everything is sunshine and roses.  There is a certain level of tension.  We’re both tired.  Neither one of us is getting a much of a break from our jobs.  Unfortunately, I think that’s just part of the journey right now.  I’m very supportive of the business.  This is one of Chris’s lifelong dreams, and it could prove to be very financially successful for our family.  However, I’m tired and crabby.  Likewise, Chris understands that taking care of a very active, very determined toddler is exhausting, but he’s doing a lot.  In fact, he’s doing more than most men would ever consider doing.

With that said, I’m trying.  I’m trying to write more, but I’m also trying to keep myself busy so I don’t notice that my best friend isn’t around as much.  Thankfully, Cecilia has turned a new leaf when it comes to naps, and I’m now able to put her down in her crib!  I’m too afraid of making a noise and waking her to clean so I’ll try to blog more.  That takes care of the time factor, but I’m not sure how to conquer the creativity-block.

If you have any interest, Chris and The Dudes’ new business’s site is called Bandit Software, and their first product is LeanKit: Kanban.

Zumba

Last Monday, I joined two of my new gal pals from my moms group at zumba class.  Have you ever heard of zumba?  It’s an intense cardio workout based on a variety of latin and hiphop dances.  It’s an intense hour-long class that works and tones every major muscle group in your body.  I was really looking forward to attending because I’ve really reached a fitness rut.  As someone who used to workout every day for at least an hour without fail, I can’t seem to get to the gym, and the only way I get there is to agree to meet up with someone.

However, at the same time, I was really dreading the class because I have no rhythm. Like seriously, none.  I was in marching band my sophomore year of high school, and I faked playing the whole time because I couldn’t march and play.  Despite that, I still found myself out of step.  I haven’t been friends with these girls very long, and I’m still trying to sort of impress them.  I figured I would either 1. completely embarrass myself where I’m too ashamed to see them again, or 2. prove that I’m a big goober that’s worth keeping around.

Despite my fears, I had a good time.  I was completely lost most of that hour.  Even though there were 50+ women in the gym, I’m pretty sure the instructor kept looking at me like I was a lost puppy.  Maybe that’s because I would just jump up and down with the beat of the music when I couldn’t follow along with the steps.  I did have a good time, especially during the parts where you shake your hips.  I know I got that part right.

There’s just a few things worth mentioning about that night.  First, I realized that I really need to get out of the house regularly on a weeknight to do something with my friends.  I rarely do that because I’m afraid that it will interupt our regular dinner/bathtime/bedtime schedule.  However, Cecilia is getting to a point that she doesn’t need me to be there to go to sleep.  It’s good for my soul, and in return, it’s good for Cecilia.  Second, that particular zumba class is at a church.  It’s one of their ministries.  Despite being in a church, it’s a full-blown zumba class.  The only difference is that you pray before you shake your ass.  Third, I thought I had completely recovered from giving birth a year ago, but it appears that I need to do some kegel exercises less I wear diaper before my next zumba session.

To Do, Part 5


59. Learn to ski or snowboard

My poor husband used to go snowboarding all the time until he met me.  Hell, he’s even snowboarded in Japan! I’m scared to death of it.  In fact, I’m scared of pretty much any sport that might involve falling and damaging my teeth.  However, if I get hurt, I’ll be in good company.  Chris always injures himself too.  You’ll have to ask him about the time he took Japanese Midol for an injured knee.


58. Increase my vocabulary

My mom used to say that curse words were used by people who weren’t intelligent enough to say something else. Shit. I guess I’m not very smart.  Well, or at least I knew that my vocabulary was lacking.  It also doesn’t help that every time Chris and I get in a fight he uses gigantic words, and I have no idea what they mean. Of course, I’m too pissed to ask him for a definition.  Man that shit pisses me off.


57. Be a contestant on Family Feud


56. Watch the top 100 movies of all time


55. Dig for diamonds

Did you know that Arkansas is the only place in North America that has diamonds? Did you also know that you can dig for them at a state park for a minimal fee? As an Native Arkansan, I really should dig for diamonds.


54. Experience an Australian Christmas

It’s hot there at Christmas! You can get sunburned on Christmas! It totally blows my concept of the holidays. Are their decorations the same? Surely there’s no Frosty the Snowman.  Does Santa still wear a heavy red coat and boots? Hot! Christmas! Crazy!


53. Eat at a diner made from an old train car


52. Own a miniature donkey

(Chris, my birthday is quickly approaching.)


51. Become a US Marshall

‘Cause they’re badass.


50. See the Northern Lights

Number 68, Check

68. Breastfeed Cecilia for 1 year

Well, a year has come and gone, and I managed to successfully breastfeed Cecilia without an ounce of formula.  I have to admit that I’m sort of a breastfeeding snob.  Breast is best, and I feel slightly superior when I see moms give their babies bottles of formula.  However, that emotion has started to diminish over the past year because Dang! Breastfeeding is hard.  I’m very thankful that Cecilia and I were able to overcome our challenges and push our way through the last 12 months, but I can’t fault any mom who needs to give their child formula.  Those first 12 months (hell, 18 years) it is all about survival.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), Cecilia never took a bottle so nursing was our only option.  Regardless to the circumstances, I’m happy that we found our way to the other side.  Now I just have to figure out how to get her interested in eating more solid foods and nursing less.

2009 Resolution Monthly Review: April

In an effort to keep my resolutions, I’m reviewing my progress each month.

Whoa! A monthly review on time. Sweet fancy Moses! Last month I challenged myself to go green with my purchases. It did cut down on some of my unnecessary purchases and forced me to rethink some of my other ones. Unfortunately it also justified me buying things I probably wouldn’t have necessarily purchased. I did find myself at Target for some mommy-time after a particularly stressful day, and I promptly supplied Cecilia with an entire summer wardrobe. Oops. Not sustainable, organic cotton. But it was on sale and the kid needed some shorts.

So maybe I didn’t follow through when it came to cotton, but I did avoid Sonic for over two weeks. That nearly killed me. I celebrated my accomplishment today with a Diet Cherry Dr Pepper, the sweet nectar of the diet soda gods. However, I’m going to try to cut back. If I think about the number of Styrofoam cups that I put into the environment, the guilt really overcomes me. Several folks have asked if I ever thought about bringing my own cup. Yes, I’ve thought about it, but I’ve never asked. The next time I go (probably tomorrow), I will.

Unfortunately, my efforts to save money, small as they were, didn’t translate into money for our savings account. Chris’s Jeep, the Beast, unexpectedly needed a new radiator, and that sucker-punched our checking account. It was a little disheartening to pay over $1000 for that repair, but it was encouraging that it didn’t have to come out of our savings account or go on a credit card. That wouldn’t have been the case a couple years ago. I consider that a step in the right direction.

It’s also put us in an interesting position as we move through the end of this pay period. Our checking account is a little low. There’s plenty of money to get us to the next paycheck, but we need to live frugally until Tuesday. We’ve had several conversations about not spending money on shopping or dining out this weekend. Of course, we have money in the savings account, but there seems to be an unspoken understanding that it’s off limits. We’d rather skip dining out or picking up a bottle of wine over spending our hard-saved money.

On the clutter front, I feel like I brought more crap into the house than I took out this month. I gave our old lawn mower away, but that’s because I bought a new cordless electric one to replace it. I’ve spent several hours on the sofa going thinking through the closets and all the junk that clutters them. I’ve got some moderately valuable stuff that I could sell, but I’m intimidated by eBay and Craigslist. Hopefully I can get some help from Chris in those areas.

In regard to my resolution to post more, I don’t feel like I met this goal either. April felt a bit harried to me. Cecilia was clingy. Chris was busy. I was preoccupied. I just didn’t feel creative. I found myself thinking in Twitter posts and Facebook statuses, but it wasn’t enough to write an entire blog post. However, I’m going to try to schedule more mommy-time to help me clear my mind and get my creative juices going.