The Little Moments

I’ve been a full-time working mama now for three weeks.  In some ways it feels like an eternity and others it has flown by so quickly.  As our family works out the specifics and the “balance” (ha!  balance!  we know that’s not a real thing, right?) of our new schedules, it’s been challenging but so rewarding at the same time.

Traditional weekends no longer have the same meaning, as Will and I both work weekends now, and that’s ok with us.  The only downfall I’ve found with that is now that summer is nearing and all the family activities are starting to pop up, many of those things happen on weekends.  When we moved to Lexington last summer, it took a while to adjust with all the traveling I was doing for work at the time and we missed out on much of the festivals and whatnot.  It appears we will need to get creative this year to experience this awesome city that we now reside in.

collageI like the hours I work, even though I’m sure some would look at me like I was crazy.  I go in at 4:30p and get out at 1:00a, Wednesday through Sunday.  Will works early mornings, 4a-12:30p, Thursday through Monday.  So there’s always one of us here with the kids and no need for a sitter and we both share one day off together.

The reason I like the late shift (other than it eliminates the need for child care) is that I get to still spend a majority of the kids’ waking hours with them before I head to work.  We have an early dinner right before I leave and then daddy takes over kiddo duties and they’re in bed typically between 7:30-8:00p.  Had I gotten an earlier shift, say 2-10:30p…a majority of my shift they would be home and awake.  So I still get to maximize my time with them and get home at what I consider a decent hour for me, since I’m most definitely a night owl.

The biggest downfall is by the time I get home, finish any little to-do’s in the kitchen and unwind for a little while…I’m getting to bed around 2am or so and the kids wake around 8am.  It’s been a bit of an adjustment on my energy levels, but I’m hoping that’ll even out with time.  Remember, I haven’t worked a traditional job in almost 7 years, so just being out of the house for 40 hours a week is draining, even though I just sit at a desk all day.  It’s not a physically draining job, but it can definitely be mentally draining.

I love the work.  I love multitasking and troubleshooting and problem solving to help our customers on the other end of the phone get the service they need at a difficult and frustrating time.  For the most part the customers don’t get angry with ME…and even if they are upset, I can’t really take it personal.  I’ve had some funny situations, some downright scary/upsetting situations but mostly just easy things that I can help take care of quickly.

So we are still adjusting.  The two days that I just had off did not feel long enough, filled with errands and the kids’ dentist appointment yesterday and Jack’s speech therapy coming up this afternoon.  But that is balanced by the dance party the kids and I had yesterday morning and riding their bikes and giving them their bath and getting cuddles and tucking them into bed.  By the library story time, blanket forts, splashing in puddles and going to the Kite Festival with friends.

I have a great respect for both SAHM and working moms.  I’ve seen both sides of the coin and I see the pros and cons of both.  Some still may not understand my choice to go back to work, but for right now, in this moment of our lives…it’s a positive thing for ME and a positive thing for our family.  It doesn’t mean I love my children any less and it doesn’t mean I’m being selfish.  Quite the opposite.  I saw the opportunities it would bring to our family and I made a difficult choice with the help of my husband, family and the friends who support me unconditionally to step outside the home and embark on a new adventure.

Full Day of Food: April 3rd

I’ve been oddly intrigued by watching “Full Day of Food” videos of some health/fitness vloggers on YouTube and it has me snapping photos of my food like a crazy person.  Ok…so that’s actually a lie.  I often take pictures of my food.  You’ll notice this if you follow me on Instagram.  I go through phases.  At one point when I was on Weight Watchers, it helped to keep me accountable.  The same for when Will and I did the 21 Day Sugar Detox.  So yeah, it’s really not all that uncommon for me to click pics of my food.  I’m that person.  Take it or leave it, sister.

A full day of food.  My eating schedule was pushed later today since I got to sleep in this morning, and then my breakfast and lunch were so filling!  My husband made a comment about how much food I’m eating lately and he’s right!  I did some research and found what I feel to be a comfortable calorie goal (and basic macros count) and changed my mindset on food.  I used to think that the less I ate, the more weight I would lose.  Which is true to a point, but also unhealthy and sends the body into a somewhat crisis mode.

Blah blah blah…I’m no fitness guru.  I just know that after years and years of having an unhealthy relationship with food, I’m trying to bring it back to basics, eat more REAL food and give my body the nutrients it needs.  For this to happen, I’m actually eating more calories than I would’ve ever felt comfortable with, but I’m dropping weight at a steady pace!  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t work out (unless you count running around after the kids, loading the dishwasher and going up and down the stairs all day long for one errand or another).  So my intake is based on that knowledge as well.  For now, this is what I’m comfortable with and I feel SATISFIED, emotionally and physically, by the food I’m choosing.

This was my “Full Day of Food” from yesterday, April 3rd.  Enjoy!

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BREAKFAST: This was super filling and held me over well past my usual lunch time.  This consisted of 2 eggs scrambled with a spinach/feta chicken sausage, 1oz spinach, 1 roma tomato, 1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese and 1/2 of an avocado sprinkled with sea salt.  The scramble itself was seasoned with Mrs Dash original spice and the entire meal came in around 450 calories.

coffee040316After eating, I made a mug of coffee.  I am trying SO SO hard at trying to quit my coffee creamer habit, but I just don’t think I can do it.  I’ve tried Bulletproof-style coffee (made with grassfed butter and coconut oil) and I can take it or leave it.  The past few days I’ve done half & half with some stevia for sweetener and it just tastes like garbage.  Might just go back to using flavored coconut milk creamer or the Bliss brand since it’s a bit “cleaner”.  We shall see.  Needless to say I used a straw and chugged my coffee as fast as possible so that it didn’t linger on my tongue.  That’s a waste of a cup of coffee if you ask me.

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LUNCH: As I mentioned, my breakfast kept me way more full than I anticipated so lunch was closer to 3:30pm.  This most definitely means that dinner is going to be postponed and there’s no way in heck I’m going to hit my calories unless I truly try something creative throughout the evening.

So anyway…lunch was this awesome burrito style bowl that I concocted.  It contains about 4oz chicken breast, 1/2 cup of Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Rice & Quinoa, small portion of chopped broccoli, shredded lettuce, 1oz spinach, 1 roma tomato, the other half of my avocado from breakfast and the KICKER…the ingredient that truly makes this dish… one serving of Bolthouse Farms Avocado Cilantro salad dressing.  This came in around 470 calories and I was STUFFED after I ate it.  I sipped on the Pink Grapefruit drink (knockoff of the ICE drinks) throughout the afternoon.

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DINNER:  I made a big batch of turkey chili earlier this week and so that was dinner tonight, topped with fresh onion and a side of oven roasted sweet potato rounds.  Oh!  I also doused my chili in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.  Because yum.  This came in around 315 calories!

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DESSERT:  This probably doesn’t look very pretty or appetizing, but it’s my go to sweet treat lately!  I take a Macintosh apple and dice it up, throw it in a bowl and spray with some coconut oil from Trader Joe’s.  Sprinkle it with cinnamon and microwave for a minute to soften it.  This also brings out more of the sweetness in my opinion.  Then I mix it with plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.  This is the base of this dessert.  From there I change my add-ins.  Tonight was some Mamma Chia Vanilla Almond Granola Clusters and walnut pieces.  Seriously so good and packed FULL of protein for 313 calories (the walnuts made up 1/3 of that total).

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BEDTIME SNACK:  I was still a little low on hitting my target calories for the day (especially carbs), so I had a serving of strawberry frosted shredded wheat with 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk for 230 calories.

And there we have it!

Morning Giggles

What have we done on my last day as a true stay at home mom?

I awoke to the sound of giggles and whispers at the end of my bed as the kids played “quietly”, as they do most mornings once they wake up.  I called to them, “Come up here and give me snuggles!” to which they laughed and squealed with delight, knowing that I was awake and they no longer had to be “quiet”.  They climbed up onto our big ol’ bed and lunged for the space between mommy & daddy’s pillows, fighting for a comfy spot in my arms.  Once nestled in safely, they had a brief moment of silent happiness as I kissed the top of their sleepy heads.  After a few moments they started fighting over the Batman blanket that Jackson had drug up into the bed with him and I made the decision that we would head downstairs and join Will.

back windowThe sun is shining here today in Lexington, and so the kids immediately asked to play outside.  Despite a little wind, they got to run around in the grassy area behind our townhouse, play with their bubbles, push baby dolls up and down the hill in the doll stroller and bounce on the Hippity Hop ball.  (This actually happened about 3 different times so far and it’s only 5:42p with a few hours of daylight ahead of us.)  The last venture to the back yard included their big bag of sidewalk chalk.  I love being able to work on the computer or meal prep while looking out our back windows to watch them play, with the back door open letting the sunshine and fresh breeze into the main living space of our home.

During one of their “inside break times”, they decided to tackle some of the library books in the large untouched pile on our dining room table.  They took turns bringing me books to read to them, as they both somehow squeezed up onto my lap, listening intently (at first) and helping me turn the pages.  I may not have all the funny voices that daddy uses when he reads to them, but they sure seemed to enjoy the closeness and we made it through three books before they wanted to sneak back outside.

library booksNow, dirty and sweaty and full of bubbles and sidewalk chalk…it’s almost time for baths and dinner before some inevitable family cuddles on the couch.  Winding down this evening has been bittersweet.  I know that tomorrow at this time I will have been at work for a short bit already, and I explained to them that the next few weeks I will be working in the evenings and daddy will be here for the nighttime routine, but that when they wake up in the morning I’ll be here waiting for the whispers and giggles and cuddles.  I’m not sure they fully understood, but Jack replied: “But when you go, I will cry.” and I had to tell him that he was going to have so much fun with daddy and would barely have time to miss me.  That sweet boy.

In the midst of this I even had some time to get online and purchase a few Christmas presents.  Yes, you read that right!  I shop year ’round so that I can get the best prices.  We will have 11 nieces and nephews by this fall, so it’s imperative that we budget and plan for that sort of thing.

Off to love on these sweet babies before it’s bedtime.


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Mommy Guilt, Thy Nemesis

Jack&AliceMommy Guilt.  The two words that nearly every mother in the history of ever has experienced at one point or another.  Sometimes it’s fleeting and other times it lingers, like a nosy neighbor who just won’t leave you be.  I’ve been a mother now for almost 4.5 years…and my children are, and will forever be, the best parts of me.

Since before Jackson was born, I worked from home, building a very successful direct sales business and making my way into the top 1% of the company.  Eighteen months after we brought Jack into this world, his baby sister, Alice, was born.  I was still working my tail off to make a name for myself in my business (and fully enjoying every minute, honestly).  Even though I was home a majority of the time, the mommy guilt still crept in.

The ever living battle of “working moms” and “stay-at-home moms” will most likely never dissipate.  As the kids are getting a little older and our lives are changing, I felt the need for more.  I absolutely LOVE being a mother…and I’ve loved being home to watch my babies grow.  But in that time I felt as though I was losing a piece of myself in the process, as selfish as that sounds.  It took me a long time (years!) to realize that it was OKAY to want more.  It didn’t mean that I loved my children any less, it just meant that I was learning to fulfill and feed my own dreams again as well.

Some people will look at me like I’m crazy for going back to work in a traditional job setting where I clock in and clock out.  I can see their faces and their words ring in my ears like a bell…because I used to be that person.  I didn’t understand it.  And I’m so sorry for anyone who I’ve made to feel like less because of those assumptions and opinions of a previous version of myself who just didn’t understand.

This is also why another part of me just can’t leave my direct sales business behind and I will still be dabbling here and there.  I love the company.  I love what we stand for.  I love the products.  And most of all, I love the opportunities that it has given my family and me over the almost 7 years that I’ve been a part of it.  The people I’ve met have become a part of who I am.  My clients are amazing and supportive and wonderfully hilarious.

Trying to do it all and expecting that it all can be done exactly right is a recipe for disappointment.  Perfection is the enemy.  – Lean In

As I bridge this gap between “SAHM” to “working mom”, I just want to say that I appreciate all of you that have reached out to settle some of the guilt that creeps in late at night after I’ve tucked my babies in.  The kindness and supportive words I’ve gotten have helped to qualm my fears on whether I’m making the right decision.  I can say that I am so excited about the future right now; more than I’ve been in quite some time.  Moving to Kentucky last summer, I thought it would help me grow further in my business.  What I didn’t realize was that it may have been God’s way of opening other doors for me, even if I have to stumble through them.

Mommy guilt…I can’t say it will get better, and truth be told, I expect it will get worse for a while.  My heart is sated by the fact that the kids will have more quality time with daddy and gain independence from me in some small way.  Sometimes the guilt creeps into the little things…the stack of unread library books the kids chose, the piles of laundry that I keep putting off, the games that go unplayed.

All I can say is that I can remember growing up with a mother who worked two and three jobs at a time because she HAD to.  She didn’t have the choice to stay home with my sisters and I.  She was a single mother who worked HARD to provide for us, and I will always remember that.  She may not have been there physically every moment of the day, but I’ll forever love her for teaching me about perseverance, hard work and a mother’s love.  I hold zero resentment for the life we were given, and I know it must have been hard to swallow her own version of mommy guilt.

Here’s to a better tomorrow, mommy guilt or not.


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The New Normal

Life has caught up with me and it’s been a while since I’ve updated.  Sometimes I just feel like there’s nothing going on worth writing about, but then I struggle with the fact that I just need to get in the HABIT of writing regularly.  Anyway…

I was supposed to start training at the new job yesterday, but it got pushed back until next Monday due to medical reasons on the trainer’s part.  So that gave me an entire extra week before entering the hectic life of what will become our new normal.  We got to spend a little extra time in Michigan since I didn’t have to rush home to prepare for work on Monday.  This allowed us the time to:

  • take the kids to an Easter Egg hunt at a local church
  • go see Batman V Superman in IMAX
  • join family at a hibachi restaurant for dinner
  • attend Easter Vigil mass at church
  • have Easter dinner on Sunday afternoon
  • send the kids on an Easter Egg hunt at the in-laws house

We were hoping to meet our newest nephew, who was born on Monday morning before we left for the trek back home to Kentucky, but due to some complications after delivery, he was sent to NICU and pictures will have to hold us over until we are back in two weeks.  On that note, prayers and good vibes sent his way would be greatly appreciated by the family, I’m sure.  He comes from a long line of feisty family members, so it’s only a matter of time before he gets to go home his mama and daddy and four siblings.  A fun and emotion filled weekend, for sure.

Now I get to try and figure out what life will look like for the three weeks I will be in training at the new job, and trying my best to make the transition to that as easy as possible for all of us.  I think this will include a household chore/checklist of sorts, better time spent on meal prep/planning and really learning to utilize the time I have at home to the best of my advantage.  I’m still very excited at this opportunity, and can’t wait to see what it feels like once I’m actually in the thick of things.

I was sitting at the computer right around 4p earlier and realized how sleepy I was and just kind of laughed.  I turned to my husband and said, “Looks like I’ll be that late afternoon coffee drinker on my way to work!” because my shifts start at 4p during training, and that’s about the time of day I start feeling like pulling back and relaxing.  It’s going to be a big change after not working in the “typical” workforce for the past 6 years!  (To help fulfill the coffee portion, I used a $50 Bed Bath & Beyond gift card and stocked up on clearance K-cups for my Keurig this afternoon…got 96 K-cups, which should keep me held over for a while.  We never buy anything else from BB&B, so I figured it was a wise investment!  Then I’ll go to filling my own reusable K-cup with ground coffee).

Any tips from my working mama friends?!  How to keep life balanced (ha!) and maximize your time?  My time management skills are much different in regards to my direct sales business, so I’m just looking for what helps you get through the days while still having enough time/energy for all the people and things that need to be taken care of!


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Big Changes, New Adventures

The last time we had big changes and new adventures to talk about, we announced we were moving to Kentucky.  Rather than draw out the suspense, I’m going to play the “rip it off like a Band-Aid” act and just say it: I’m going back to work.  Yes, in a “real” job, outside of the home.  I’m as flabbergasted as you are, but hear me out.

First of all, I am not leaving my direct sales business!  I repeat, I am NOT walking away from my direct sales business!  And there will be some of you who don’t fully understand why I don’t just “amp it up” in this area, and that’s an understandable point of view.  I feel the need to at least give this new opportunity a chance for a few reasons.  But I will still be running my small business and doing parties and helping to train and support my team.  That won’t change.

Last week I got a phone call as I was loading the kids into the van.  I almost didn’t answer it because I didn’t recognize the number, but I hit the “talk” button on my phone, half occupied with buckling Jackson into his car seat.  It was the HR department of a local corporation asking me to come down for an interview the next day.  Even in that moment I felt nervous accepting, but I knew I couldn’t say no.  We set a time and I was left standing in my driveway with my phone in my hand and a dumbfounded look on my face.  The previous night during my chat with the big guy upstairs, I prayed for guidance.  Part of me has felt unfulfilled and lost in some way, and I asked God to help lead me towards my next chapter.  Then I wake up to this phone call the next morning and I couldn’t help but feel like it was His way of opening the door for me.

For the next 24 hours I stressed and fretted and went back and forth on my decision.  I made lists of my strengths and weaknesses and went over interview questions in my head.  The amount of “what ifs” that were floating around in there were adding up and felt impossible to overcome.  What was I doing?!  I haven’t worked in a traditional job outside the home since November 2010 and here I was contemplating the very possibility of it.  Will and I discussed how life would change if I did in fact get the position and I left the rest of it in God’s hands and tried to get a good night’s sleep.

Long story short, I passed the testing phase, aced my interview and was offered the job on the spot.  A quick drug test later and I was on my way to being a working mama.  Life is about to get crazy hectic, and I’m actually very excited about it.  I start a three week training period the day after Easter, and then they’ll throw me into my regular schedule after that.  It’s an office position that is able to work around Will’s schedule, which is important so that we don’t have to put the kids in daycare or find a sitter.

  • Full-time, 40 hours a week – This is going to the biggest change for me, having been at home since before the kids were born.  I will definitely miss the free time and flexibility, but I need to give this a fair shot.  Upside?  It gives the kids more one-on-one time with daddy.
  • Eligible for health benefits after 60 days – This is HUGE for us.  Will and I have been without insurance since we moved to Kentucky, since his job doesn’t offer benefits until he gets promoted to full-time.
  • 401(k), paid vacation, paid sick days, paid holidays & 4 paid floating holidays per year – ’nuff said.
  • Clinic on site that is free for all employees (with or without insurance) for all basic medical needs.
  • Casual dress code – This amuses me.  When I read that jeans and hoodies were part of the approved dress code, I knew I was right at home.
  • Opportunities for advancement – I know a few friends who work for said company and at least one of them has advanced to a salaried employee during her time there.  I was asked if I would be interested in advancement, and I said that if the position was right for me, of course!

I’m focusing on the positives, like the job perks above as well the financial gains to help get us out of debt (this is a big one!) and feeling useful again.  I’m really excited as long as I don’t focus too long on the fact that I’ll be away from the kids more than ever before.  As much as I enjoy being home and available for every little thing, I’m also feeling the itch to be back out there working.  I’m really torn, because I worked so hard to be a stay at home mom, and I almost feel as though I’m betraying that part of myself.  On the flip side, I need to at least give this a chance to see how it goes.

So that’s that.  In just over a week I will be caught up in a whirlwind of working, meal planning (to guarantee the family isn’t living off frozen pizza and cereal) and really learning to optimize my time at home and in my business.  It’s scary, but I know a lot of great mothers and wives who work outside the home and that gives me the strength I need to be excited about this new adventure.

 

 

$98 Aldi Grocery Haul

316AldiTripThe kids and I spent a long weekend up in Michigan visiting with my side of the family and got back home early yesterday evening.  That meant that today was grocery shopping day since the hubby had spent the weekend living on cereal and leftover potato soup that I made right before leaving town.  So after Jack’s occupational therapy and speech therapy appointments, we loaded up and headed over to Aldi.

(I just have to say that I love the fact the Aldi shopping carts have room for TWO kiddos in the seat.  Mine always fight over who gets to sit in the “baby seat” and this saves me from having to hear this argument the entire shopping trip.  Happy kiddos make for a happy mama.)

This was the largest grocery haul from Aldi since we started shopping there earlier this year.  I had a darn near FULL shopping cart and it still came in just under $100, which I was quite impressed with.  Even the hubby made a comment about how he’s always amazed at how much food we are able to get there, and it takes a lot to impress him!  He’s gone with me the last few times I’ve been shopping so it’s neat to have him experience it with me.  Nothing like filling the back of our van for under $100.  Score!

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So what did we get?  A LOT of produce!  Strawberries were on sale for $1.49 and their asparagus and green beans were also pretty cheap, so I figured we would try them.  The kids asked for bananas and “oranges” (I always get the Halo clementines because they’re easier for them to eat) and the grapes looked good this week, too.  The Roma tomatoes were .99 for a bag of 5, so I picked up two of those as well.  (We like to slice ’em and devour with salt & pepper as a snack or a side to dinner.  Even the kids will chow down on some tomatoes!)  Spinach and the bunches of bell peppers will be used in stir fry with some turkey kielbasa sausage (one of my go-to lunch options).

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For meat I picked up 2 of their Fit & Active turkey kielbasa rings, 2 pounds of frozen ground turkey and a pack of thin cut pork chops.  Other meal-type items include stuffed manicotti, stuffed shells (already have some pasta sauce in the pantry), O’Brien potatoes to use in breakfast burritos (along with 2 types of tortillas), a box of shells & cheese (for either a dinner side or kids lunch) & mac and cheese bites (which hubby saw and thought the kids might like).

And then we stocked up on all our staples and snack type foods: cereal bars, granola bars, animal crackers, graham crackers, a LOT of cereal (we go through about 4 boxes a week it seems like — the kids snack on it dry and hubby likes a bowl as a bedtime snack most nights), 3 boxes of applesauce pouches, two 6pk of Danimal yogurt smoothies, 2 gallons of milk, bread, everything bagels, probiotic yogurt, slim jim wannabes (Jack is obsessed), string cheese, whipped cream cheese and a bag of chocolate eggs for the kids Easter basket.  And paper plates over there on the left.

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With what we had on hand already and what we bought today, here are some of the meals I have in mind for the coming week or two:

  • Tilapia, sweet potato fries, broccoli
  • Kielbasa with peppers and asparagus
  • Pork chops, baked beans, asparagus
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Stuffed shells/manicotti w/marinara, garlic bread
  • Pasta with marinara & meatballs
  • Turkey burgers topped w/fried eggs (sounds weird, but we love it)

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Frugality: accidentally on purpose?

Here are some of the ways that I am accidentally-on-purpose being frugal, therefore saving my family and I money in the long run:

I rarely buy new clothes.  This is not altogether a new concept for me, but even as recently as last year I would enjoy browsing through the clothing department while out and about shopping, and would pick up a shirt here and there just because.  Heaven help me if I found myself in the children’s clothing department…my kids had more clothes than they knew what to do with, and yet I couldn’t help myself.  Even $5 or $10 here and there added up, and I couldn’t buy Jack something without buying something for Alice, now could I?  Their shared closet was overflowing.

Over the past 8 months or so, I’ve really been content with the clothing that I personally own, and I’ve finally come to the realization after packing up a bunch of clothes that the kids outgrew and NEVER EVEN WORE, that they could use a downsized closet as well.  I tend to stock up on their clothes during end-of-season sales for the following year, and they still plenty.  For my husband and I, we basically just add something out of necessity at this point.  We’re both simple creatures of habit, so I love my jeans and tshirts.  I have a small collection of business casual stuff and he wears a uniform for work.  (Moment of truth:  when I’m home — which is a majority of the time — I live in yoga pants and tshirts.)  So yes…we save a lot of money by not over indulging in clothing and accessories.

This is the kids shared closet NOW (literally taken 10 minutes ago). I went through their tote that I store upcoming season clothing in last night and hung up all the spring/summer clothing that I bought at the END of last season, plus a few pieces from a children’s resale shop.  So this is all their fall/winter AND their spring/summer tops (and dresses for Alice).  For two kids.

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They also each have a stand up storage tower that contain pants, shorts (and skirts for Alice) and pajamas.  (There is another storage drawer in the closet that houses their socks, underwear and bathing suits).

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I cut the boys’ hair at home.  Both Will and Jack just get simple cuts, and after we invested in a set of clippers, I began just cutting both of their hair at home, which saves a little money every few months when they’re due a trim.  Alice has yet to get a hair cut, and I have been growing mine out for well over a year.  I haven’t even gotten a trim during that time, but might have my mom fancy it up a bit next time I’m home in Michigan for a visit.  As mentioned previously, I’m a simple gal who doesn’t need a high maintenance hair style.  Ponytail braids and mom-buns are my go to style as of late.

I drink filtered tap water almost exclusively.  I invested in a PUR 2-gallon water filtration system back around Christmas (on sale!) and I pretty much only drink water at home.  I will fill up my Contigo water bottle if I’m going to be out running errands or visiting with friends.  This is cheaper than purchasing bottled water, by far, even WITH the upkeep of having to replace filters every few months.Photo Mar 05, 4 59 39 PM

We don’t have cable.  When we moved from Michigan to Kentucky back in July, we just decided to not get cable once we moved (even though we had it back in Michigan).  After a brief stint of missing my DVR something fierce, I quickly became accustomed to utilizing Hulu and Netflix for my binge-watching needs.  Sure, it’s less than ideal to not be able to watch some of our favorite shows the same season they air (such as American Horror Story), but we will survive.  I can’t even remember the last time we RENTED a movie, come to think of it.  It was definitely before we moved to Kentucky.

Hubby doesn’t eat at work.  Ok, let me explain this, obviously.  (When I asked him how we are accidentally frugal, this was HIS contribution of an answer.)  He works early in the morning and gets home around lunch time.  So he will take something he can quickly eat in between locations in his car, and then eat a big lunch as soon as he gets home.  Even when he DID used to take lunch to work, it was always PB&J sandwiches.  I’ve preached to him time and again that he needs to eat better in the first portion of his day, but he’s stubborn and doesn’t listen.  So his stubbornness is saving money, I suppose.  *sigh*

We don’t dine out on road trips.  When we drive back to Michigan to visit family (which is usually a monthly basis), we always pack adequate snacks and drinks so we don’t need to stop anywhere for food.  Depending which side of the family we are going to visit, this is either a 6 hour trip or a 9 hour trip.  We still stop for potty breaks, but very rarely do we stop for drive-thru and NEVER for a sit down meal.  PB&J, yogurt smoothies, popcorn, nuts, fruit…we’re good and it’s probably healthier than our fast food options, anyway.

We don’t “spoil” the kids.  Ok, I definitely have been known to spoil the kids.  But what I meant by this is that when we go to the store, the kids do not get a toy or treat each time.  I wrote a blog all about how we are intentional with our gifts and teaching them the value of money, so they get gifts at birthdays and Christmas and that’s pretty much it.  They have TOO MUCH stuff as it is, I don’t want to needlessly add to that just because they’re asking for the newest craze when I’m just running in for a gallon of milk.

What ways are YOU accidentally-on-purpose a frugal person?
I’d love to hear them in the comments!


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Adios, Leap Day.

I know I’m expected to feel all warm and fuzzy and happy about having ONE ENTIRE EXTRA day to do niceties and smell the roses and give thanks.  And I truly wish that I could have done that, but instead it was just one itty bitty irritation after another today.  Despite trying to find my silver linings in everything the cosmic Universe threw my way, I’m just done.  So here I sit, at nearly 10pm and I just can’t wait to start fresh tomorrow.  Adios, Leap Day.  I wish I could have loved you.

So many irritations and things gone wrong, that even my law-of-attraction-loving-self couldn’t prevent the stress from seeping into my bones…or neck & head, as it may.  I have had a tension headache for a majority of the day.  My appetite has been wonky because of it, and I’m just feeling off.  From some small business glitches to the kids putting at least 4 of Alice’s baby dolls into the mud while playing outside to a mystery shop being denied because I was 21 cents short in what I was supposed to spend…it’s just been one of those days.

leapdayjackJack had an eye appointment this morning as part of his preschool evaluation process (his actual evaluation is on Friday) and Lord knows if there’s one thing that kid hates, it’s waiting rooms.  Particularly, WAITING in waiting rooms.  I can’t say I blame him, but I also have learned to just suck it up and deal with long wait times.  He, at 4 years old (and with sensory processing issues), has definitely NOT learned that.  So when we are stuck at the eye doctor for somewhere around an hour and a half, you can bet your pants that he will be whining for about an hour and twenty minutes of it.

And this was accompanied by shrieks, rolling on the ground, tears and much attempted patience on my end.  He sat well during the actual eye exam portion, and he was occupied for about 47 seconds by an adorable newborn in the waiting room near us, but even bribing him with Plants vs. Zombies on my phone did not help.  It was all down hill from there.

I’m hungry.  I’m tired.  I’m frustrated.  This is boring.  I want to go home.  I want lunch.  Can I have a peanut butter sandwich?  Are we done?  What’s this?  Can I wear these glasses?  These glasses are like daddy’s.  I’m hungry.  Where is the doctor?

I had hoped that the sunshine and cool breeze and Dave Ramsey podcast would bring my mood up while I ran some errands earlier, but somehow even that didn’t do it.  That just made me feel inferior and lost in the sea of how much further we have to go on our journey to being debt free…student loans looming in front of me like a caged elephant with nowhere to go.  It’s a frustrating feeling and I’m filled with regret and remorse at not immediately putting my college education to work upon graduation.  Because now, even if I wanted to get back into the workforce, what do I really remember of my coursework from YEARS ago?  While I took time to build a greatly successful direct sales business, get married and raise my babies at home…my college degrees have sat on a shelf, unused.  Nearly 4 years of Accounting and 4 years of Human Services, and for what?

I know, I know.  I’m having some sort of mid-mid-life crisis.  Or a Leap Day crisis.  Or something, I’m not even sure.  But it’s no wonder that I have a headache, right?

When I question every decision I’ve ever made on my path to adulthood…when I am filled with “what ifs” and defeat at the things I never did accomplish (nevermind the things that I DID achieve, such as building a million dollar sales team and serving on one of the highest positions within my company for 2 years in a row while going through two pregnancies during those best years of my business thus far!)…where do I go from there?  Sometimes I still feel like a child, trapped in this adult role but wanting mom to comfort me and tell me that I’m doing alright, even if we aren’t really sure what’s next.

And other times?  At least there’s wine.


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What we did with our tax refund

taxrefundIt’s that time of year…TAX TIME!  Before you jump up and down and squeal with joy at the big ol’ refund you may be expecting…realize what a refund really is:  an interest free loan to the government.  You overpay on taxes, they hold that money all year long, then they give it BACK to you after you go through the joys of filing your taxes.  Now, there are ways to minimize this so that you get back more of your hard earned green back on each check throughout the year, but you will need to adjust your withholdings on your W4 with your employer.  There is an IRS withholding calculator on the IRS website that can help you with this.  Also know that if you have or qualify for certain exemptions, have children, etc…you may not be able to get that number quite close to $0 despite your best efforts, but it’s still worth a try!

Our taxes are always a little wonky because I am self-employed within the direct sales industry.  My first 4 years filing taxes were good to me.  Even though I was making good money, I also had good business writeoffs!  My 5th year was another story and we did end up owing because of the amount of money I made (and because taxes are not withheld on ANY of my income).  It wasn’t horrible, I think we only owed about $1000 to federal and a few hundred to state.  I pulled back a bit last year, plus we moved out of state and I’ve had to build up my clientele again, so we didn’t owe anything this year and actually ended up with over $3000 coming back to us between my business deductions and the child exemptions and whatnot.

So what did we do with that big ol’ chunk of change, you may be asking yourself?  Did we book a Caribbean Cruise for two?  Are we heading off to sunny Florida with the kids for an impromptu weekend getaway?  Go on a shopping spree and buy a new TV?  No to all of the above.  Although, I will note that those are all things we did in 2015, with the cruise and Florida being paid for in cash.  (It was actually 1 year ago this week that we went to Florida and it was bittersweet looking back at photos as they popped up on my TimeHop app.  We stayed in a wonderful rental with my entire immediate family.  Taking a 3 year old and 1.5 year old on a plane was a different story, but we managed.)  And I’ve already talked about our very pretty (i.e. pricey) television in a previous post.  So no, we didn’t do any of those things with our tax refund this year.

What we did was pretty boring and I’m going to be completely transparent here, so no judgement in what I’m about to disclose.  Before we moved to Kentucky, we were credit card debt free for the first time in…I don’t even know how long.  When we moved to Kentucky, we ended up buying new furniture and using our credit card a BIT more than we should’ve been.  Then the move itself cost some money (moving truck, car dolly) and I was off on a business trip within two weeks of moving here, so there were some expenses with that.  Before we knew it, my credit card was crying tears of being used and abused.  We took the entire tax refund and threw it at consumer debt.  Yup, bye bye $3k, it was nice to know you.

We are using Dave Ramsey’s snowball method, which states to line up all your debts in order of smallest to largest balance and pay them off in that order.  That still leaves us with our Best Buy card (which needs to be paid off by September 2017 before interest kicks in), another card we transferred some balances onto (vehicle repairs and God knows what else, also 0% interest until next summer).  And that’s it for credit cards before we start hitting our auto loan really hard.  After that?  The dreaded (DREADED I tell you) student loans.  I feel like we will never be rid of Sallie Mae.  She’s taken up room in our home and will be here forever, I’m sure.

So that’s what we did with our tax refund.  No playing, no fun.  Just the good ol’ responsible paying off of stupid choices from the past year.


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