Monday, February 28, 2011

Yard Sale List for Summer!

There are several great toys & things I want for Isis in the coming year! Some may be better once she is 2, but there aren't yard sales in January, so I've made a list now to share with my mom & mother-in-law. I am not a big fan of going to yard sales, but I don't mind reaping the benefits on certain items. I won't take just anything from a yard sale, but toys & things like this, I'm all about getting there!! Here's my list this year!

Isis is starting to get more interested in coloring & drawing! At first, she just wanted to stick the crayons & other utensils in her mouth, but now she's gotten interested in coloring with them! We'd love for her to have a little table so she has her own space that is her size to color & draw without worrying about what she gets dirty! I found the one above at Toys R Us. I'd also be happy with a cute little plain table like this one at Ikea! I'm also looking at one on Craigslist!

I'd love for her to have a little kitchen set with all the food pieces & maybe even a shopping cart! I loved stuff like that when I was growing up! Plus we try to make meal times a family thing at our house & get her involved in cooking as much as possible! I love Ikea's kitchen stuff! I love everything in the Duktig series! Or there are lots of great kitchen sets from Toys R Us! I love this Step2 Lifestyle Market Place Kitchen because it combines the regular kitchen set with the shopping stuff! I'd have to get this little shopping cart to go with it.

My friend has a tree swing at her house & Isis loves it!! We don't have a tree to put one in, but our in-laws do & we're hoping we will at our next house. Either way, it'd be great to find one of these tree swings at a yard sale! They seem to be the preferred brand. Every tree swing I see seems to be a Little Tikes!

The last thing I want is some kind of little slide. There are a bunch of different kinds, but my two favorites are the Swing Along Castle Climber because it's got the swing attached or the Toddler Climb & Slide because it's just the slide!


Do you shop at yard sales?
What are you going to be looking for this year??


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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mumford & Sons

I saw Mumford & Sons perform with The Avett Brothers & Bob Dylan at the Grammys & I've been pretty much all about them ever since then! Here's a video just for you all!


Happy Sunday!! Today, I'm preparing for my Annual Oscar Party!! The Oscars are one of my favorite events of the year! I look forward to it all year long! I posted my Oscar predictions on my other blog.




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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Saving Money

Saving Money. It's an ongoing struggle that everyone faces to make the most of what they have. To even just have what you need can be a struggle. So we all find our own ways to save money and provide for our family. We have been a 1-income family for the last 13 months. I'm working now with my long-term sub position & I will be working full time in the fall, but we also now have student loans and childcare which can really put a dent in your budget. We've adjusted some things on our budget & we are trying to find some ways to save more money in ways that work for our family. The thing about budgeting & spending is that it's going to look so different for each family. Certain things take priority in some families that are easily expendable in other families. Here's where we are at this point & I'd love to hear your tips!

We bought the HomeBudget iPhone app because it offered the family sync option. We entered our budget into the app & we will enter bills and expenses as we have them. Our phones automatically sync the information to each other & we can daily see where we are with our budget. (I do understand that even having iPhones & data plans in general can be a killer in other budgets, but we've had them for years now & they've been in our budget for years, so they work for us!)

2. Meal Planning
I've done some version of meal planning before, but I've gotten much more specific with it recently. I'm never going to be a major coupon person, but I'm making an effort to use what I can. I plan my meals in advance & put on our shopping list only what we actually need to get us through the next 2 weeks. I'm also making a lot of things that are fairly cheap & will last for several meals. (For example, I have an awesome crock pot potato soup cooking downstairs that will easily last us 2 whole dinners & at least one lunch.) When we move into a larger house, I want to buy a freezer to keep in the garage so I can start making meals & freezing them or freezing more supplies when things are on sale.

3. Downgrading our satellite TV
Here's one thing about our family: we use technology & entertainment items majorly on a daily basis. We both have iPhones, we have high speed wireless cable internet, we have satellite TV with 2 HD DVR boxes so that I can record everything & watch it when I have time & am not playing with Isis. For a lot of families, one of the first things they cut when saving money is cable TV because it's just not necessary for them & I think if you can do it, do it. But for us, it's just not even a part of the discussion. But what we are doing is dropping down to the lower Directv plan & getting rid of movie channels, including HBO and Showtime. This will end up saving us about $40/month on our satellite TV.

We watch a lot of movies & TV, but we've stopped seeing movies in the theater as much. Usually now if we do go, we will go on Tuesday nights when our local discount movie theater has tickets for only $1.50. That way we can see the movies that we actually want to see in the theater for a discounted price - although this is rare anymore. We also get the Blockbuster Online plan. We chose the $19.99/month plan. We used to have the in-store plan that was $26/month for 2 movies or games at a time & you exchange in store. Now for $19.99 we can have 3 movies or games at a time & we can return them to the store that is right up the street & as soon as they scan it in, they mail out our next movie. Usually if I return a movie one day, like Monday for example, I'll have my new movie by Wednesday. This way not having the movie channels on TV is no big deal & I can watch whatever movies or TV shows on DVD I want!

5. CSA
Last year, I posted about our first experience with using a local CSA. We had a really great experience & it saved us a lot of money in the long-run! This year, we are going to do it again! Now that I know what to expect, I'm planning in advance & stocking up on some staples that can accompany your veggies & herbs from the farm. I'm going to try to dry & freeze some herbs this year. I'm going to stock up on pasta from Sam's Club so that we'll be ready to make lots of pastas with the veggies! I love it because it's about $500 for 20 weeks & we got to where we spent less than $20 at the grocery each week for things to accompany our veggies. That's less than $50 per week in groceries!! And you're getting local, fresh produce as well as supporting a local farm. I feel like it's win-win for everyone!

Other things I've found useful lately are:
Ebates.com, which gives you cash back for shopping online at places you were already going to shop!
Kroger iPhone app: look at current coupons, set up an account that includes your Kroger plus card number, then load coupons right to your Kroger plus card so that you just scan it at checkout & you automatically get the coupons!
Retailmenot: offers coupon codes at a lot of stores - always check it out before completing your purchases online

Blogs I read that are related to savings:




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Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Today I started my long term sub position!! It was a really wonderful day! But I'm tired & I'm going to bed early. I just wanted to share this picture of my cute little valentine all dressed up, helping me pick out her summer wardrobe at Old Navy this weekend!! Yay for the Kids & Baby Sale!!!

My other valentine is taking me out for a celebratory new job/Valentine's dinner next week!!

How did you spend your Valentine's Day?



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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Babies, Babies Everywhere!!

There are so many pregnant people right now!! It is absolutely crazy!!

I'm about to start a long term sub for a teacher who is due on the 18th.
My best friend, Diana, is pregnant with her 3rd! Due towards the end of August.
My baby guru, Laurel, is pregnant with her 3rd! Due in April.
One of my good friends, Ciaara, is pregnant with her 1st! Due end of July.
A friend from high school, Allison, is pregnant with her 2nd! Due in August.
A friend of mine, Lauren, whose husband works with Lewis is pregnant with her 1st! Due in May.
Melissa from Dear Baby is pregnant with her 2nd! Due in May.
Adriel from The Mommyhood Memos just announced that she is pregnant with her 2nd! Due in the fall.

That is a lot of babies in 2011!!

Not to mention all the celebrities! Here's my current list of celebrities due in 2011: Mariah Carey, Pink, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Bunton, Toni Collette, Rachel Zoe, Marion Cotillard, Alicia Silverstone, Natalie Portman, Jewel, Victoria Beckham, Kate Hudson, Selma Blair, Devon Aoki, Ivanka Trump.

Oh my goodness!!! Babies, babies, babies!! I am excited to hear about baby names & see cute maternity clothes! It's just super fun!! I was one of those moms who just loved being pregnant & so I love all things maternity! Bring on the bumps!! Congratulations, ladies!!



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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

First Steps!!

It's so funny, yesterday I wrote this post (scheduled for today) about how Isis isn't walking yet and she's just taking her time and blah blah blah. Well, she also decided yesterday to take her first steps! She did it several times and I caught it on video once. She wouldn't do it if you got close to her. If you get close, she tries to get you to pick her up or hold her hand, but I found that if I sat away from her, she would do it herself. I'm telling you, she is just like me and Lewis - wanting to do things on her own time in her own way. We're in for a fun adolescence. Thankfully that's not for a while, but right now my baby is now a toddler! Crazy!





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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Seasons

(This pic is not really related to anything, just thought it was funny. This is what Isis has started doing when you ask her to smile if you're taking a picture.)

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a certain season of your life? Almost like you're taking little steps in a certain direction, but never really getting there? That's how I feel right now. For the last 4 years, Lewis and I have been students. I went back to school in January 2007 to be a teacher. Lewis went back to school to get his Masters in Business (MBA). We bought our townhouse in May 2007 because we just wanted a simple, little place with a mortgage we could easily afford, where we had very little upkeep & could just focus on finishing school with little stress.

Well now, here we are 4 years later. I am a college graduate and Lewis has his MBA. We have a 13 month old baby girl & are ready for more when we finally get into the next season of our lives. The next season involves career jobs and a house with room to have three kids. But for right now, we're in holding in this current season. Our house is on the market & until it sells, we obviously can't move into a bigger house, which also means we can't even discuss getting pregnant again. We also can't discuss getting pregnant again until I have a permanent teaching job.

I start my long term sub position in a 5th grade classroom next week. I am so excited about it! The teacher is going on maternity leave for at least 12 weeks, so it will be such a blessing for her to have that time off and for me to have an opportunity to get more experience teaching & to spend time with a really great group of students in a school I have really come to love! Hopefully this position will help me to get a permanent job in the fall, but schools don't start posting openings for the fall until March at the earliest. So I'm waiting.

Also, we put our house up for sale in January so that it would be on the market for a little while before the spring when people start looking for houses. But even then, with the market how it is, there is no guarantee that our house will even sell. We've got some things working on our side & we've even had one showing already, but we're just waiting.

It's strange the anticipation I have about everything that's going on. It's scary and exciting and overwhelming all at the same time! I've been ready for this new season for so long and now it's finally right around the corner! God has been so faithful to us throughout our current season of life. School has worked out perfectly for me and for Lewis. We tried to get pregnant for 8 months and then finally got pregnant at exactly the time that it would work out beautifully! I was able to get 8 months at home with Isis and then do a semester of student teaching when both she and I were physically and emotionally ready for it. If it had happened earlier or later, there would have been a whole smorgasbord of other struggles based on jobs, money, etc. I was also able to not work for a year. I was worried that I wouldn't get a job in the spring and then I got this long term sub, which incidentally is starting within 2 weeks of when we would really need the money.

God's timing is so perfect and He has proven Himself so faithful to my family. Now I need to just relax and wait for Him to provide the path to this next season for us. There is no question in my mind at this point that He will do that. I'm just excited to see where it leads!



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Monday, February 7, 2011

Maternity Clothes

Melissa at Dear Baby posted a link to this blog & the first post when I clicked was this one about "Dressing the Bump."

I have to say, this girl is absolutely beautiful & her style is so great!! I am all about some tunics & cardigans & she just got me so excited about getting pregnant again!! I've bookmarked this link so that when that day comes, I've got some inspiration!

Also, preggo moms, there's a 30% off sale in the Old Navy Maternity clothes!! So go check it out!



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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dear Period.

THIS POST IS NOT FOR MEN.
If you are catching this link on Facebook & you are my dad, Lewis' dad, my brother, my cousins or any other male in my life, don't continue reading. Consider yourself fully warned.


Dear Period,

The last time you came around for real was April 2009. I can't say that I've missed you. Not really. Yes, I had to go through pregnancy and childbirth in exchange for sending you away, but I think it was immensely worth it. 

Then I started breastfeeding and you decided to continue your vacation and I got another 10 months without even a minor glimpse of you. It was really heavenly! But again, I endured some breastfeeding struggles, including Mastitis, in exchange for your hiatus, but I still believe it was overall more than worth it.

I was taking progesterone only birth control and so after I stopped breastfeeding, you didn't seem to be able to decide if you wanted to come back for good or not. You'd creep up just barely for about 3 or 4 days every other week. Now, miss Period, that's just plain teasing. Not really coming back, but not really ever going away. Teasing like that is just not fun and honestly, at this point, it's a little slutty. And nobody wants to be the trashy girl on the block.

So here's what I propose: now that I'm back on my dual-hormone birth control pills, would you please just come back like normal & you're welcome to visit every 28-32 days. But don't stay for longer than a week like last month & then peek back in less than 20 days later. The doctor says you're just regulating, but in my opinion, you're just being annoying. Make up your mind so that we can continue our cycle of love/hate. Love when you're regular, hate when you're a little hoochie who peeks in for a few days every couple of weeks, but won't offer me any sort of commitment.

I will send you away again when I can in exchange for more pregnancy, childbirth & breastfeeding, but as for now, we've got to come to some sort of an understanding. It's been 22 months & things need to get back to  normal. I'm ready if you are!

Sincerely,

Cameron




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10 Favorite Things

I wrote this really fabulous post yesterday with all my favorite baby names right now, but then my friend Diana reminded me that I have lots of pregnant friends & I don't need to share my names so that no one will steal them!! So I moved on to the next topic on my brain...

I was thinking the other day about how I tend to be really loyal to certain things when I find something fabulous that I like! Just for fun, I started trying to think of my 10 favorite things that I use or do or read or watch regularly. The list obviously doesn't include my family or friends because they would top any list of favorites. So using only things, this is the best I could do...

1.Young Adult Vampire Stuff
Twilight, Buffy, Vampire Diaries - I love all those! True Blood, I just can't do. So I finally realized I am a young adult vampire fan. I always said I didn't like Buffy for the vampires - it was the satirical & sarcastic humor. I didn't like Twilight for the vampires - it just sucked me in somehow - I think it was more the secret love & how awkward she was because although I hated her, I also somehow related. I didn't like Vampire Diaries for the Vampires - okay, wait - 3 young adult vampire things? I decided to just admit to myself that they all had to have something to do with the vampires! Don't know what it is, but I love it!

2. Dark Chocolate M&M's
Lewis and I always have a bag of dark chocolate M&M's somewhere in our house. If we run out, it's a big deal - someone is making a late night run to Walmart.

3. TV Shows
I love watching TV. It's something that has definitely changed for me since becoming a mom - I do the vast majority of my tv-watching once Isis is in bed. Therefore, I've had to cut out all the shows I can stand to not watch anymore, but that still leaves a lot. Here's my current list: House, How I Met Your Mother, Gossip Girl, Glee, Parenthood, American Idol, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Off the Map, Bones, Vampire Diaries, Grey's Anatomy, 90210, One Tree Hill, Hellcats, Big Bang Theory, The Office, Saturday Night Live, Castle, United States of Tara, Big Love. Judge me if you must. I'm aware that it's really ridiculous. But I do tend to do other things while I'm watching TV. I'm a major multi-tasker.

4. Donald Miller, Rob Bell
To sum this one up in one sentence, I love reading books by people who challenge me, but who I also feel like I really relate to in an authentic way. If you aren't familiar, Donald Miller is a Christian author who has written some books that have really spoken to me on a level that not many can. He's genuine & authentic & he's not afraid to admit that he has questions. He's not a pastor and he hasn't gone to seminary, so don't expect to find actual Greek meanings of Biblical text or theological investigation into something. The thing I like about him is that he's a Christian author, just on the same journey I am - to learn, investigate and sort through this life with his eyes on Christ. He admits his struggles and his failures, but he also is honest about challenging where you are & giving advice for moving forward from someone who is trying to do the same thing. I like that. (My faves: Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What - he also has a blog that is fabulous.)
Rob Bell, on the other hand, is a pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is formally educated in Biblical teaching. He has his M. Div and loves to talk about the original Greek and Hebrew meaning of Biblical text. This always opens scripture up a lot for me and really challenges me! (My fave: Velvet Elvis) I also love to listen to his podcasts on iTunes! (Along with the podcasts of Erwin McManus & Francis Chan.)

5. Japanese Food
I love Japanese Food - like a lot. If I could pick one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Japanese food. I love going to eat at hibachi grills! I love chicken & shrimp & sushi & the ginger dressing on the salad & all of it! I could literally eat it every single day. But I don't, because it's expensive. I end up eating at the hibachi grill at a Japanese restaurant just a couple of times a year. Although, we will go eat at the sushi bar more often.

6. Forever 21
This is my favorite store. It's cheap, it's got really cute clothes & I love just being in there & trying everything on! I can buy a ton of clothes for not very much & it always  makes me really happy! They also have a kids line & you better believe, when Isis is old enough, she will be rocking some Forever 21 kids clothes! I'm also really pumped about their maternity clothes & I'm gonna get Lewis some of their men's clothes! I even keep a running wish list on their site.

7. 7 for all Mankind jeans
Continuing with the clothes topic, it took me years to find a brand of jeans that fits me really well and that don't fall apart. I literally wear my jeans out! Yes, this brand is expensive, but if you get a Macy's coupon & use birthday or Christmas money, like I do, it works out in the end. I haven't bought any other jeans since I discovered them! I'm a big fan. I have this pair & this pair.


8. Facebook
I know a lot of people hate Facebook & deleted their Facebook or whatever, but I see the pros. For one thing, I have family that live all over. We don't get to visit as often as we'd all like, so Facebook is a great place for me to post pics of Isis so that they can keep updated with her! I also link to my blog posts so that my family or friends who aren't big blog readers can stay updated on what I'm posting here. I also see Facebook as a less socially awkward way to keep in touch with those people who you really do want to stay in touch with, but you aren't quite close enough to call on the phone regularly & you don't want to write huge emails. Maybe you disagree & I do understand the people who aren't interested, but it really works for me.

9. Awards Season
Add this to my love of TV shows & then my love of movies & it should be no surprise that I get giddy about Award Season. I watched the Golden Globes the other night & was just all about every bit of it! I cried & I laughed & I was excited for people & it was just fun. It also tells me what shows or movies I should be checking out! Although I don't always like all of them. For example, I am terrified of seeing Black Swan. Plus I looked it up on the Kids in Mind rating guide & I'm even more confident that I can't watch it. But I do love awards season! The dresses are my favorite!!! Just wait until Oscar Season! I have a party at my house every year!

10.Music
I believe that music conveys things about life that cannot be expressed any other way. It doesn't even have to have lyrics. Classical music, movie scores, it can all speak to you on an unspoken level. My love of music goes as far back as I can remember because my dad is a big music lover. I was raised on Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Heart, Aerosmith, Supertramp, Led Zeppelin, etc. I still love classic rock, but I also love the new stuff. I even believe there is a time and a place for Britney Spears. I just love music. On my iPod, I have about 80 GB of music & 30 playlists all representing a different mood or experience. Tomorrow I'm going to post a playlist for you!


What are your 10 favorite things??


After I posted this, I saw that someone else copied the idea! So check out her link! If anyone else does one, I'll link to you as well, just let me know!

A Little R&R: 10 Things I Love



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