Random Updates

>> Monday, August 23, 2010

Today I'm going to visit my mom. She really wants to convince my father to sell the house that they can no longer (couldn't ever, really) afford and move to a small bungalow, before the bank makes them do it.

So I am going over laden with boxes, to help her start packing. They have a TON of junk in the basement, and when they do eventually move (either voluntarily or by force), I want most of their stuff to already be packed so they don't have more stress on top of everything else.

I basically told my mom that I think she should just take charge. She should call a realtor, tell him she's selling the house, and just do what she needs to do, regardless of what my father thinks/says/does. Whenever I talk to my mom, she dwells so much on her regrets. The other day we came to the conclusion that most of the things she regrets are not things she did, but  rather things that she allowed my father to do. Things she just went along with, because he wouldn't listen to her. I told her that she can't go back, she can only go forward, so she needs to make sure that she doesn't just agree to stay in the house and let the bank take it, even when she knows that's the wrong thing to do. She needs to take control, and I'm going to help her.

In other news, the father has finally decided that this whole get-rich quick pyramid scheme he's involved in is not working out as he'd hoped.

 He has finally decided to look into going back to school. Since he was in the auto industry, there is a government program that will pay for his schooling and living expenses so that he can re-train. He loathes the idea, but finally realizes that he has no other choice. I am very happy about this. An education is worth so much. If someone offered me a free education I'd jump for joy. I think he's secretly afraid to fail. And it must be embarassing starting completely over at the age of 51. But hey, if he'd finished his degree back when he was in his 20s, he wouldn't be faced with this now. All choices eventually catch up with you.

On to me. I have been applying for jobs every day. Someone asked awhile back what type of work I was looking for. I'm looking for any job related to the human services field. These include (in the order in which I want them):
-Career counselor
-Student services counselor (at a college)
-Recreation co-ordinator (at a community centre)
-Early Childhood Educator (day care, preschool or before and after school program)

These are the types of jobs that I have mostly applied for. I guess because of the recession, there have been a LOT of posting for career counselor type positions, but so far I haven't even been called for an interview.  There have also been a decent amount of postings for the other jobs I've listed. I hope something turns up between now and next fall. Otherwise we'll really have a problem.

As for Our Sweet Baboo, he is doing wonderfully. Allow me to take a second to shamelessly brag about all the adorable things he does:
 He takes my or the Hubbs' keys and goes over to the front door and tries to open it.
He can say Mama, Dada, Night-night, and Banana.
When you say "Yay!" he claps.
When you say "How big is Baboo?" He raises his hands in the air while one of us says "soooo big."
He takes his toothbrush and tries to brush his own teeth.
He takes a brush and tries to brush his own hair.
He can identify his hair, his feet, and his teeth.
He knows when his diaper is getting uncomfortable and will do the sign for diaper, and bring us a new one.

Now on to some of his more frustrating habits:
He insists upon closing the door to his bedroom while he's inside, and then cries because he can't get out.
He persists in taking off my glasses and throwing them across the room.
He refuses to wear a hat outside.
He will not TOUCH a vegetable. Well, that's not true. He'll take a bite, make a face, and then throw it on the floor. Sigh.
He flat out refuses to be weaned. He has stopped taking a bottle altogether and it is driving me bananas.
Everyone says he is the busiest, most active baby they're ever seen.
He wants to get out of his stroller and run around in public, but he refuses to hold our hands, making that impossible.

The Hubbs: He's on the Dean's List again for the summer semester! Woohoo! I am so proud of him :D He is a smart, sexy stud.
I also envy him. While I am SO GLAD that I am finally done school, being a student came with a certain lack of pressure. I could work at a dead-end job in a clothing store or a coffee shop without shame, because this wasn't what I was really doing with my life--I was a student. But now that I'm done, there is a lot of pressure. I need to find a job, and I really, really want it to be at least tangentially related to my field of study. I absolutely MUST have something by next fall. If I haven't found a job that is on the list above by spring, then I am just going to start applying for any job around. It would suck, but I know that I need to find work, and of course I can always keep looking for something in my field while working in retail (barf--no offense to anyone who does this, it's just not for me) or at Starbucks. At least the free coffee would be appealing, and I've heard their benefits are great.

On the downside, I'd have to learn all that fancy coffee speak :/


Meet the Thriftys (Part 1)

>> Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I've been thinking a lot about money. We don't have much (as a student and a recent graduate looking for a job, things are tight). But I want to do the best we can with what we have. I recently read the really short and simplistic book, How to Get Rich without Winning the Lottery. Like I said, the book was very simple, but it did help me change the way I think about certain things. The atuthor is of the impression that wealth means not having to work. His basic idea is that people should invest their money in a fairly high yield fund, get large returns over 20 or so years, and then retire early and live off their investments until the age of 65 when social security kicks in. I'm not of the same mind. First of all, his method assumes that people want to maintain the same lifestyle forever. So if someone makes $19 000 a year, that's what they should be living off forever in order for his plan to work. He also doesn't factor in the idea that one could lose their investments (the higher yield, the riskier they are) or that the government is saying that social security might not always be there. I also want to work. I want to have a career, so not having a job is not a goal of mine. Nonetheless, it still had some good principles.

The main thing I took away from the book is that no matter how little you have, you should always be investing or saving something. If it is absolutely impossible to live off a penny less than what you are making, then you should simply make more money. The book includes a brain storming session on how to do this, most of which include starting up a side business, getting a part time job, or working over time. I was inspired by this, so I called my church and asked them if I could get back on staff as a member of the child care team. I will only be working a few hours one day a week, but I can use that money to save and then eventually invest.

I've also come up with a meal plan. People always say one of the best ways to save money is to plan your meals, so I decided to give it a shot. Honestly, I hated it. It was much more confusing than something that sounds so simple should be (mainly trying to figure out what amount of food would make how many servings, etc), so you know what? My family and I are going to be eating the exact same weekly menu for awhile now lol. I'm just not making one every week. I just can't. We can swap some items out, though, so we don't go insane from the monotony. For instance, we usually have chicken, but this week steak was cheaper so we bought that instead. We buy one type of meat each week in a mid-sized quantity, and we usually only have meat once a day, if that. We cut the chicken (or pork, or steak) into strips and cook it. We then separate it into different containers for different days. Tonight we're having chow mein with veggies and steak. Tomorrow we will probably have homemade pizza with pepperoni and vegetables, but the next night we will have steak fajitas, another day steak and rice, etc.

We also don't eat the exact same snacks through the week, but it follows a basic plan. We're a pretty snacky family, so we make sure we have stuff to munch on when we're out and about so that we don't get hungry and want to buy fast food. On the menu for one snack a day I have written "fruit", then when we do the shopping I simply buy whatever fruit is on sale. This week we got clemetine oranges and strawberries (which our Baboo LOVES), last week it was apples and bananas.

I'm pretty happy with this new plan. We have three meals and three snacks a day planned out, at a budget we can afford. It's very exciting.

Some Low-Budget Meal Ideas (they are simple because I don't have time to be fancy):
-Crock Pot Chilli (we make ours with ground turkey) and garlic toast
-Grilled PB&J
-Tuna Casserole
-Chow Mein
-Meatball Subs
-Breakfast for dinner
-Soup, sandwhich and salad
-Shell Noodle Lasagna
-English Muffin Pizzas
-French Bread, Cheese and Wine (with grapejuice for the kiddo)

Low Budget Snack Ideas:
-Microwave Popcorn
-Homemade cookies
-Homemade muffins
-Homemade biscuits (easiest and fastest thing to make, ever)
-Pitas with hummus
-Cheese and crackers
-fruit salad

For Kids:
-shredded cheese
-mini bagels w/ cream cheese

Aside from food, we've decided to live on cash. We are going to take out our weekly spending money, separate it into evelopes labelled, for instance, "gas", "food", etc, and when the money runs out each week, that's it. I read that its much easier to live off cash than debit if you're sticking to a budget because your brain actually releases negative feelings associated with parting with cash. You don't get that reaction when you're just swiping a card.

So, that's the beginning of our new (even more) frugal existence. I'll keep you posted, and share a low-budget recipe or two.


Mom and Baby Sick Kit

>> Sunday, August 1, 2010

The kiddo is sick. His nose is runny, and all signs point to a sore throat and headache too. Poor little guy. Last time he was sick, The Hubbs and I were sick as well. We were all sick for weeks and it was terrible. This time, at the outset of the illness, I decided to put together a sick baby & mama kit, so if he takes me down with him, we'll have everything we need to get through the illness right here. There's nothing worse than having to schlep your delirious self to the store and try to decipher which remedies will help you feel better when you feel so bad you can barely stand. Without further ado, the kit:

California Baby Cold & Flu Decongesting Bubble Bath (13.99).: All natural and safe for you and baby.
California Baby Cold & Flu Aromatherapy Bubble Bath - 13 oz.

Budget Alternative: Life Brand Soothing Bubble Bath contains menthol and eucalyptus to clear your sinuses.

Hydra Sense:

You put the bulb inside the baby's nose, and suck on the tube. Sounds gross, but there's a filter inside to make sure you don't get anything unsavory in your mouth. The most effective way I've found to remove baby boogies.

Portable DVD Player: Because if You're bedridden, you might as well be entertained.

Coby TFDVD7008 7-Inch Portable DVD/CD/MP3 Player (Black)

Vicks Baby Rub: Will help ease baby's congestion while they sleep, and if you're into infant massage, it'll soothe any sore little muscles.

Vicks Baby Rub Soothing Vapor Ointment - 50 Gm

Crane 2.3 Gallon COOL Mist humidifier

I prefer these to the ones that emit steam, because there's less risk of accidents or injury that way. These simply release cool water droplets into the air to keep your sinuses from getting too dried out.

Del Monte Real Fruit Bars: Nothing soothes a sore throat like a delicious popsicle--especially a guilt-free (and fat free!) one made with real fruit, so it's safe to share with baby.



When my Sweet Baboo is sick, it's one of the only times when he'll just be mellow. To take advantage of that, I make sure to have lots of books around so I can capitalize on the extra snuggle time.

The Going-To-Bed BookGlobal BabiesBaby Signs

I try to skip medicating my baby, but when he has a fever, infant tylenol helps.
Tylenol Acetaminophen Fever Reducer / Pain Reliever Concentrated Infants' Drops, Grape Flavor, 1-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 3)

And some for me. Because sinus headaches are a bitch.

Tylenol Cold Head Congestion Day/Night Cool Burst Caplets, 20-Count (Pack of 2)

If the bedroom becomes boring and you need a change of scenery, a cozy throw in the living room is a must. This 100% cashmere blanket is only $99.00 from Amazon.

Luxuriuos 100% Cashmere Throw Soft Elegant and Warm 50" X 60" Color: Choc Brown

Budget Alternative: The super soft BLASTIS blanket from Ikea is only $9.99.

Get Well Soon!



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