Uh, Oh. I broke the bank.

The expenses of August can be staggering if you have kids.
Convenience meals
Spontaneous Vacation
School supplies
Fall clothes
Fall sports registration
Don’t even get me started on the obscene amounts of money I spend on my classroom that Man may or may not know the extent of.
Those are in addition to the normal monthly expenses. What’s a girl to do when she knows she’s breaking the bank?

Well, she comes up with this money saving menu, digs around in the freezer and pantry, and sees how long she can make it on:
Pre-paid activities like gym, the local museum, and the zoo
Free activities like weekly library time
Creates some at home fun with play dates
Avoids Target and Michaels like the plague (we all have that cart stuffing, money sucking, love to roam store)
Zero dining out

How long do you think we can go?
Let’s chat: What do you do to keep some change in your piggy bank?

Summer Break, Day 1

I did not have a huge organized list of things to do this summer, no bucket lists to prevent boredom, 101 things to make this summer the best.  All of the cleaning out and packing to move has me in a much more minimalist mood this year.  Or I’m just pooped and completely over Pinterest.  Whatever.

We headed out for the orthodontist this morning, so since we were all clean, dressed, and out of the house we decided to complete what I like to think of as the summer reading circuit.  I have at least one child who is extrinsically motivated, so these programs are wonderful!

  • local library – read aloud dates, parties, rewards for books read…FREE! Love it!  Mom’s Favorite for sure.
  • Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Triathlon – the kids complete a journal about their reading, return it to the store and get to choose a FREE featured book.  The journal is not bad…answer 3 out of 4 questions.  Thank you!!!
  • Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program – my children’s favorite = they read 300 minutes, they get a store credit.  HPB trips are a major motivator at my house.

We rewarded our stellar bookstore/library behavior with some lunch and play (thanks to the Chick-Fil-A calendar card) and headed home.  What a great start for a “rainstorm looming just to the west” kind of day.

If you have a favorite summer reading rewards program, please – leave it in the comments below! 

If you NEED a list

  • Take kids to eat at Chick-Fil-A.  Let them play in the play area.
  • join summer reading program
  • go on a library trip

P.S. I am totally in the wrong field.  I found my old retainers…for $100, the doctor will look at them and develop a plan.  I’m a mom.  I plan all the time.  No one has ever paid me $100 for my plan.  I do like teeth…just saying.

Mom, TRIs

After our first child was born, I decided I wanted to work toward completing a triathlon. Childbirth – ridiculous race involving three sports – seems like a reasonable jump to me. Two more children and several years later, still no tri under my belt. Something in February (my last birthday…cough, cough) fueled me to get a plan and set a goal.  An old friend of mine is an avid runner, marathoner, and is in all around kick-butt shape.  She was running a half-marathon in the area, so I signed up and started getting to business.

I loved the routine.  You can’t miss workouts and expect to survive anything with the word marathon in it.  I loved the excuse to clean up our eating, avoid eating out, and I loved how now we had a weekly family day.  We were outside, together, and being active.  I think Man kind of liked it too, but more on that later.  It was a new norm, and I liked it.  Time consuming…oh, my, yes.  Scheduling nightmare…sometimes.  Support…for sure. New gadgets, food stuff, and time spent picking out more workout gear…don’t even want to count the dollars.  Worth it?  Totally.

I didn’t magically find running that first mile any easier (I think that will always stink).  I did look forward to the upcoming challenge.  I looked forward to the time outside covering new ground.  I looked forward to seeing my support bike and cart come by.  I felt more me.

Then in early April, we woke up in the dark and drove an hour to a shopping center so I could test my work.  13.1 miles with a few more hills than my legs had seen before.  I stuck to my very detailed plan.  I followed the advice of my veteran friend.  I crossed the line tired, happy, legs killing me, and slightly delusional.  Before the race was over, I was convinced I would do better next time.  Before we got home, I had worked out how I could alter my training plan.  Before the weekend was over, I was picking out a marathon.  After 13.1, why not 26.2?

Looking over the time since I started full-time mom as my full-time job:  Some days, I feel like this mom thing is a fast 5K, other days, I feel like I’m halfway through the Ironman and they are about to DNF me.  Either way, this mom tries.

Run over to the blog, http://www.momtrisblog.wordpress.com to check out my journal of one mom’s trials and triumphs on the road to 26.2 and beyond!  Please note, training for any major athletic event does not impact housekeeping in a positive manner.  Except…the workout shorts & socks are always clean.

Raising kids of a different generation

Every day we are reminded how different life for our kids is compared to our childhood and especially that of our parents and grandparents. Sometimes it’s little things that dawn on me our kids will never do.

Other times its things I never even thought about as a child. Last year, the announcement of the end of elephants in the circus.
Today, Seaworld is ending their Orca/killer whale breeding programs and theatrical shows. Some say the changes currently effecting our society are positive, others argue they are negative.

I say either side is witness to what will be a huge generation gap. The current global climate creates even more reasons to seek out shared experiences with our children. It necessitates invested parenting and intentional decisions.

Sometimes I want to punch Eve in the face

About once a month, I really dislike Eve.  Seriously, stick to your end of the garden and follow the rules.  I blame her for the monthly kick in the pants I receive.  As the headache, nausea, and dull pain creeps up on my otherwise delightful day, I consider that men have it easier.

Then I stop and watch my children as they work at their Play-Doh projects (Man hates Play-Doh, but I love that it keeps them entertained for hours and I could write a paper on the “educational benefits”).  As I watch, I remember what it was like to feel each of them wiggle and kick while I was pregnant and the way Man looked at me after each of them was born and I think, being a woman is pretty amazing.   Painful at times, but amazing.

Is it me or is shopping harder post-mom?

I am not talking about every day errands today. I am talking about deciding my closet was a decade out of date, being sick of transitional “baby/pregnant/nursing” clothes, and ready to start the next chapter of my life. 

Enter my old tried and true stores.  The ones I frequented post-college and pre-babies…not kid friendly and not pocketbook friendly. I may have just as  well spoken Mandrian when they asked what I was looking for and I said casual cute but durable and preferably machine washable because I have kids. “Is this for work or going out?” the sweet lady said. 

I’m a mom, shopping on Monday morning with my two-year-old. Not exactly the kind of work she was thinking about. I didn’t have the heart to tell her my “going out” days are few and far between. 

Mark this as one of those times I wish my blog reached thousands of other moms. 

Where do I shop? 

I know about Kohls, Gap, and Old Navy (hello cute $3 tanks and $15 dresses). There’s the desparate grabs at Target and, gasp, Walmart.  Despite being affordable (i.e. made in a country I can’t find on a globe) and accessible, clothes from those stores never really fit.

Mama would say try the department stores, but those outings usually led to breakdowns before my body completely changed shapes.   

Yes, three kids. Three shapes. 

Today I’m talking about shopping.  

For clothes. 

Clothes that fit so well they make your day a little better. 

I do not mind investing in well made classic pieces.

I don’t mind building a wardrobe over time.  I would like clothes that fit the body well, are made for grown women –  but not old ladies, and could easily be tailored. I would like to avoid crazy fabrics and faraway places I’m quite certain probably use child labor. 

Next time I go shopping, I would like to leave with at least a one item…so moms, help a girl out.  Where do you shop?

Typical White Girl, meet Typical Worn-Out Mom

I recently saw a thing going around Facebook about the Typical White Girl. She is described as someone who has an iPhone, drinks Starbucks, wears Uggs, yoga pants, and a TNF (The North Face) jacket. Snort. Ugh. I’m not even going to touch the politics of why That. Is. Just. Ugh.

But then, a few weeks later, I was looking around the park and then a thought struck me. If we are going for stereotyping…I must be a Typical Worn-Out Mom. She is described as someone who has at least two bags with no less than 4 pockets each over her shoulder (stocked with boogie wipes and sippy cups), wears jeans that range from slightly too big to a couple of sizes to small (depending on the stage of pregnancy, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive), has embraced her natural wavy hair, sports snot marks on her long sleeve t-shirt, and worn out Toms from last season.

Of course, not every mom is your typical. There’s Sporty Mom who is seen all over town in the latest cross trainers, yoga pants, and Luluemon shirt, but is never stinky. I know from the experience of being pregnant and having three children that if you even go near a gym once you are a mother, you will be both sweaty and stinky.

Last is Fashionista Mom. She always dressed on trend, still carries a designer handbag, has her roots freshly done AND her hair is freshly straightened, donning heals, and she has mastered the selfie with kids. Most of us are convinced that this mom most likely has either a maid,  laundress, or both. Every once in a while, you notice a college age person and realize as the younger woman goes to change the baby…oh, yeah, she probably has a nanny too.

Yep. I would be firmly planted in the Typical Worn-Out Mom category.

Creating Peace at Home – Hopefully!

The holidays seem to amplify the hustle, bustle, and chaos of our overfilled lives.   I may have a few tips to create a little peace this holiday season. If you aren’t into organizing, stick with me one more minute – pretty please.

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1. The Binder.  The goal is to make things move decisively and quickly.   Inside I filled my binder with tabs (what can I say…even ex-teachers still love binders with tabs).

  •  Meal Planning – menu planning templates, the freezer and pantry inventories, go to recipes for quick meals (I also keep all the ingredients on hand)
  • Kids – school calendars, handwriting template, our I’m Bored sheet
  • Shopping Lists – I use this awesome app for my weekly grocery shopping, so this tab is to keep a long running list of household items, upcoming family/friends’ gifts, school items for class parties or teacher appreciation – the app can do all that, but I prefer old school pen & paper lists for some stuff
  • Miscellaneous –  we have a running family bucket/wish list,
  • Pockets – urgent items I need to take care of (like signed papers for school, recipes in progress, in the works projects, etc.)
  • Holidays –  I added in a tab for the holidays based loosely off of the Planning for a Peaceful Christmas suggestions on Raising Arrows.
  • all encompassing holiday shopping list
  • holiday menus
  • holiday shopping lists
  • holiday craft list
  • decorating shopping list

If you see a lady with three kids and a binder in Hobby Lobby, that’s most likely me.  If I’m out, I can glance at my lists and see what I’m forgetting.

2. Bored Boxes  These are clear plastic shoebox containers filled with toys and books that have worn out their admiration at home, but if we are waiting on a sibling in the carpool line, shopping at the mall, or sitting at practice become fun and fascinating again.  We have several stacked by the door, and as we head out, we grab one.

3. Dinner Bins  If you think of a fancy or cute name, let me know and I will change it.  I took large clear organizing tubs and packed up quiet toys to hide inside.  These are things the kids unfailingly hold their attention, but we don’t play with every day.  There are three, with different items to appeal to each child, and I rotate them week to week (or when I remember).

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These are nice because the activities don’t require me to supervise, are quickly picked up, and I can make dinner in peace.

Need a little more joy?

Try my Fill Your Freezer Plan, Dinner Advent Calendar or Elf on the Shelf Calendar.  Sometimes taking the guess work out of what to cook is half the battle. I LOVE this Random Acts of Kindness chain from Coffee Cups and Crayons.

S’more Stuffs 11/13

Making my life easier: Blog Lovin’
What is it? A daily blog roll.  You input your favorite blogs & email address and each morning or once a week Bloglovin sends you the feeds in one tidy spot.

Making my life harder: visiting every restroom in town because my almost 2 year old who insists she must pee-pee

Latest Blog Crush: The Dating Divas…these ladies are too cute!

Currently Craving: a good mulled wine

Foodie Find: Who Knew?  They make Brownie Brittle.  Can’t decide if I love it or hate it.  You decide for yourself – it may be the perfect stocking stuffer.

Back to the Bell Schedule

I was in school for over 25 years.  I lived my life semester to semester, holiday to holiday, and bell to bell.  It’s routine.  It’s living life in abbreviated chunks of time.  It keeps the day moving, and hopefully running on schedule.

It has taken some time now that I stay home full-time to realize relying on the bell schedule might not be as bad as you would think.  Sometimes everything on our grand to-do list keeps us from enjoying the segments of time we have with our kids.  We instead become grumpy, stressed, and overworked just trying to keep the home fires burning and all the kids breathing.

How have you passed these last few days with your soon to be back at school babies?

Me? Well, I made a bell schedule.

I wanted a visual reminder in our home of the daily routine.

Then, I made a daily chore board for the kids so they can start to take some ownership over their routine.

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For weeks I have hustled to get school supply shopping, back to school clothes, and an idea list for lunchbox meals all neatly compiled.  The fridge is ready for lunch box assembly, freezer stocked for drive-thru avoidance, and laundry mounded waiting patiently to be folded.

We’ve met the teacher, slept in late, and now it’s time to make the kids a giant stack of pancakes, run the slip-and-slide in the yard, bake some s’mores cookie bars, and soak up the last rays of summer.

How you gear up for back to school?