Everyone’s Opinion Doesn’t Matter

Here’s the thing: everyone has an opinion, BUT in truth it doesn’t matter. In fact, you can nag until your mouth runs dry, but in the end its an individuals choice that matters the most.  You’re in charge of your life and circumstances that surround you.  You know what best for you and your family, no one else.

So why do we let others opinions run us ragged?  Because, lets face it, we’re all opinionated at heart and believe our way is best.

Anyway you look at it, opinions are whirling all around us in everyday circumstances-ie. breastfeeding vs. formula, cloth diapers vs. disposables, homemade food vs. packaged food, SAHM vs. working mom, etc. The list goes on and on.  Its not really the opinions that get people into trouble though.   Nope, instead its the way we take the opinions to heart and transgress them to knee-high land mines in a never-ending maze.

Too many newscasts cover angry protesters and marches, and too few cover happy outcomes.

The truth of the matter is, in reality, the right answer is always different for each individual.   No one person’s reflection is going to look the same, just as one’s opinion isn’t going to look the same.  In retrospect, its not the different viewpoints that matter, its the way we handle the opinions that are thrown at us that matter in the end.

In Romans 12:16, the Bible states “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited…”.  Therefore, be willing to listen to others, but don’t be too high strung to put a wedge between each other based on differences.  Instead, agree to disagree if needed.  Just because you have differences in opinions, doesn’t mean we can’t keep things friendly.  Be a mature adult and act accordingly.  You don’t have to take their opinion to heart, but that also doesn’t mean you have to rub their voice down to the pits.  Instead (and I’m saying with the kindness of my heart!) keep quiet, let them speak, thank them kindly for their opinion, and go about your business.  Don’t pick a fight because their opinion is different than theirs.  If you ask for their opinion, be prepared for a different viewpoint. 

We’ve turned our opinions into childish never-ending bickering, and in the end, as all us parents know, is annoying and has no true outcome. 

We’re so busy nagging at each other, that we don’t even realize we’re showing our future generation that everyone’s differences are turning the world into a cold-hearted, ruthless world.  Instead of debating over who’s right and who’s wrong, maybe its time we take a step back and re-teach ourselves what we repeatedly mold into our children: differences are what make the world go round.

Setting My Priorities

Between being a wife, homemaker, and mother to two beautiful children, my time is very seldom spent relaxing around the house eating bon-bons (which I’ve never even had one a day in my life!) and walking around in my bunny slippers.

Nope, my day begins with 4-6 hours of interrupted sleep (thank you baby girl–mama loves you!), coffee, and a prayer asking the Lord for guidance, patience and forgiveness for the endless hours ahead of me.

And after a much needed hour of alone time in the wee hours (yup-5AM is my friend), I begin my list of priorities.  I’ve realized that by setting this short list of priorities my days run so much more smoothly.  Granted my house is overrun by my toddler’s toys, Netflix plays re-runs of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Curious George, and I’m still in my pajamas most days at the end of the afternoon, BUT my kids are fed, clothed (a diaper counts as clothed, right?!), and my sanity is spared for the sleepless night ahead of me.

Now my priorities may seem mundane to you, and some simply too easy, but everyone’s home runs differently, and what works for one family doesn’t always work for another, and that’s okay.  Do what works for your family.

My top priorities are simple:

  1. Spend at least 1 hour by myself-whether that be taking a shower or watching the news
  2. Say a prayer (or 5!) to the good Lord above
  3. Spend time with my toddler
  4. Shower, brush my teeth (yes, this needs to be listed or I’ll simply forget-I know gross, but its tough having a newborn and 1 yr old!)
  5. Cook dinner
  6. Pick up the house-typically doesn’t get done until bed time
  7. Spend at least 1 hour with my husband
  8. Pump breast milk at least 8 times (double duty, but its the best thing for my baby)
  9. Make my daily to-do list (no more than 3 things)

And that’s it!  See, nothing spectacular or crazy enough to send me running through the house like a chicken with its head cut off.

Daily Routine With Kids

Before kids I was always up before the sunset and would have my to-do list done by the afternoon, now I’m lucky if I get to shower!  Fast forward a few years and my time is consumed by my 1 year old son and 1 month old daughter.  Its no longer about me, or only my husband, and getting my daily routine completed on my own time.  Now my days are compiled with diaper changes, feedings (pumping breast milk and bottle feeding it to my daughter), running after my toddler, and rocking a baby to sleep at all hours of the day and night.   The daily routine I once had known has changed from an attitude of”on time” to “it’ll get done when it gets done”, but that’s okay!  I love my crazy, chaotic lifestyle, even if that means a messy house and messy faces running around naked (true story on multiple occasions!).

I’ve attempted at having a daily routine go as scheduled while having two kids under the age of 2 within this past month, but that is not happening anytime soon in this household!  I’ve realized after becoming a mother to two that there are days where nearly everything gets done in a timely manner with only a few things that got left undone, and then there are days where absolutely nothing gets done, and I’m lucky that I haven’t pulled out all of my hair with a fewer than less empty tear ducts following shortly behind.

But I have found out that if I wake up an hour before both kids are awake that I feel more refreshed and put together throughout the craziness of it all.  That typically means getting out of bed at 5:30-6:00 AM, or sooner depending on the baby’s waking hour to eat/snuggle, but I’ve found that if I sleep in until 6:30-7:00 AM I fall behind on the morning routine and I lose my patience far too fast, and nothing gets done throughout the day.

I think I would rather lose an hour of sleep in the morning than have a household that doesn’t run somewhat smoothly.  So on a typical day, my mommy routine looks as follows:

5:30 AM-wake up, watch news while pumping, drink coffee, let dogs out

6:00-baby wakes up: feed and change her

6:30/7:00- second cup of coffee (much needed!), toddler wakes up: feed and change him

7:30- smoothie time for mommy!, pump (again!)

9:00-snack time, pump (again!)

11:00-pump (again!), lunch

12/1:00 PM-nap time for toddler (very rarely will the baby be asleep at the same time!), pump (again!)

2:00-toddler wakes up, snack time

2:30-start dinner

3:00-pump (again!)

3:30/4:00-husband gets home, dinner, wash dishes

5:00-pump (again!)

7:00- pump (again!), close up shop (close blinds/curtains, clean up kids toys), get both kids ready for bed

8:00-toddler in bed (yay!)

9:00-pump (again!), mommy bed time(double yay!-unless baby stays up longer)

11:00-wake up and pump (ugh!)–won’t do again until 3 AM (moms need their sleep too!)

I’ve also kept at a cleaning schedule to keep the semi-cleanliness look achievable::

Tuesday-sweep, wash clothes

Wednesday-vacuum, wash towels and sheets

Friday-wash clothes

Saturday-deep clean the house (vacuum, dust, sweep, mop, clean bathrooms)

So as you can see my day is filled up!  Some days I’ll hand off both kids to my husband around 6PM and I’ll take an hour nap, while some days I’ll walk around like a zombie mom running on “E”.

Obviously I don’t want to seem like the “all-together, Pinterest perfect mother”, so I will admit 9 out of 10 times my day will not go according to schedule, in fact just last weekend the house did not get clean (gasp!), but I do try to the best of my ability to get it all done.

While this may all seem crazy to you with all the scheduling, it really works for my family.  We even have Sunday “Family Day” where we do absolutely nothing, except lay around the house in our pj’s all day (unless we decide to go to the farmer’s market and the park).  The only thing I do is menu plan our dinners for the week, which trust me helps us out tremendously throughout the week!

What do you do to help keep your family and household together?

Juggeling Life

I’m exhausted, and I mean all the time.  Between being a full time online student, a SAHM to my 8 month old, a homemaker, and a wife, I clearly am stunned at the amount of time spent doing for others and the household over any sort of ‘me’ time. And to top it off I may take on a part time job in the evening hours to help out with the finances.  I’m so overwhelmed as it is at home, I have no idea what I was thinking while filling out the application.  I imagine our low finances was at the top of my mind at the time, but all I can think about now is leaving my baby at home with his Da-Da for a few hours out of the week.  I can’t even go to the corner store without wanting to have him tag along with me.  I love him so much, and for me possibly getting this job breaks my heart into a million pieces.

I always dreamed of being a SAHM, and when that dream finally happened last December I was overwhelmed with love and joy.  By the time my son was two weeks old I was consumed with pumping my breast milk, feedings, changing diapers and outfits, laundry, housework, and schoolwork.  I knew I could juggle it all, but I didn’t know how exhausted I would be.  I knew I would lose me time, quality time with my husband, and any socialization outside of my little bundle of joy, but never did I pout in despair. I was happy, and in love once again.

Even eight months later I am overjoyed with my little family. I love my chaotic life that I juggle from 6AM-11PM, of course this doesn’t include the occasional whimpers in the night from my little man to want a cuddle squeezed in before he nuzzles off to slumber-land again.

Of course there are some days that are harder than others.  There are days where the dishes lay dirty in the sink, laundry is piled up clean, yet unfolded on the couch, and I’m still in my pajamas at 3’oclock in the evening. But the way I look at it is; if my homework is done, my baby is taken care of, and my hair is still intact, I’m doing a damn good job!

There are even days where it seems the cat, the dog, and my son work hand in hand to make my life even more crazy, but that’s okay.  I easily laugh off the house when it is in messy mode.  My house is meant to be lived in, not be a model of perfection.

I am blessed to have a husband who understands that he may not come home to a house clean and tidy, or that my hair is in knots with a screaming hyper baby attached to my hip.

Juggling life is not easy, and I’m okay with that.

21st Century Homemaking

I’ve come such a long way from being a young wife who bought frozen and boxed foods to feed me and my husband.  I was so young and had no idea about healthy cooking from scratch or that buying in bulk actually saved loads in the long run, and I especially didn’t believe that buying healthier foods could be more cost-effective than the counter parts.

When I found http://www.onegoodthingbyjillie.com and http://www.pinterest.com I slowly but surely graduated to homemaking and experimented with resources and foods to make it eco-friendly and save us money.  I would be lying saying it was easy and it all worked out like it was supposed to, but believe me I have had a number of ‘nailed it’ moments and pitfalls.  In fact the first thing I tried was crockpot yogurt, and because I was young and naïve I tossed it out because it tasted sour.  Years later I find out it was supposed to taste like that because it wasn’t regular yogurt, it was plain Greek Yogurt! All I had to do was add fresh fruit or jam to it and it would taste awesome.  Needless to say I laughed it off and haven’t stepped foot in the yogurt section at my regular grocery store since. 

I then tried homemade powdered laundry soap and homemade fabric softener alongside homemade dryer sheets.  This worked especially when we were in a pinch, and would last us months for pennies worth of laundry, but I prefer to stock up on free and clear laundry products with my couponing strategies.

One product I’ve mastered is mixing Downy fabric softener with water in a spray bottle to make deodorizing spray which mimics Febreze, and my husband loves the smell of this and the savings!

I also homemake a batch of dry pinto beans in my crockpot and divide them to make refried beans and the other half is for meals that call for pinto beans.  I do the same thing for black beans, and trust me the savings are inextricably wonderful!

Therefore as you can see I am just like any other wife.  I make mistakes, but with patience and willpower I made it through and I have saved my family tons! 

Since we moved to Michigan within the past year and had our first baby, a number of things have changed.  My husband works 50 plus hours per week while I am a SAHM and full time student online, therefore we are very limited on our spending.  I am still learning ways to cut costs, but so far I am doing an awesome job with couponing and stockpiling, homemaking some foods, and finding clever ways to bring in extra cash when needed. 

One of the ways I save money is my Sunday coupons which get delivered right to my door.  I also print coupons from http://www.coupons.com, and other manufacturer websites.  Kroger and Meijer have their own separate website coupons so I take advantage of those too.  Probably my most favorite store lately is Target because they allow you to use their store coupons on top of your manufacturer coupon, and you can use their cartwheel app too!

Now when we schedule our monthly grocery list I make a menu of 15-20 dinner meals for the entire month and we may buy what is on the list.  The only way something else ends up in the basket is if I unexpectedly find an awesome deal that is too hard to pass up.  Sticking to the list really does help cut down on the monthly grocery bill!

On a typical monthly grocery trip I stop at three stores: Aldi, Dollar Tree, and Meijer -or- Kroger (depending on the deals).  We had a Costco membership and we were able to purchase some things for a great deal, but we found that we rarely used the items fast enough, and we didn’t have enough space to stock it all. However if you have the space I would greatly recommend the membership!

Due to Aldi non-couponing policy and products being generic, I generally only purchase dried pinto and black beans, pasta, condiments, milk, ground turkey and chicken, produce, and baking supplies. I have yet to try their cheese because we’re rather picky on our dairy choices.   

Our Dollar Tree has the coupon policy intact, so I stock up on a number of name brand products with coupons and most of the time can walk out of there with foods or household products for half the price or near to nothing. I generally purchase Bounty paper towels, Puffs Kleenex, Hormel pepperoni, tortilla shells, Hefty Ziploc bags, Kellogg Pop-tarts (for the hubby), and if I find another great deal that I can use with coupons I’ll splurge.

Meijer or Kroger is always the last stop on the list and I typically always have coupons for almost anything I need.  I especially like using coupons when they have their B1G1, or buy 6 and save, etc.

My theory of savings, as well as my way of homemaking in today’s society may not meet up to your standards, but it works for my family and that is all that counts.  Whether or not you use all my tactics, or just a few I hope you are able to make things easier financially for you and your family.    

 

Clean Eating on EBT

So I found out today that my local farmer’s market offers double up food bucks when purchasing fresh fruits and veggies if using an EBT (SNAP) card! They will match up to $20; so let’s say I spend $20 on fruits and veggies and purchase them with my EBT card, the market will award me $20 in tokens, which I can then turn around to purchase $20 more of fruits and veggies!  I love this concept, especially since my husband and I both have decided to switch to a clean eating regimen.  I was worried we wouldn’t be able to afford all the fresh produce we could eat, but with this program we are blessed to be better able to provide for our bellies in a helpful, healthy manner 🙂 I also am able to provide fresh homemade baby foods for my 5 month old instead of filing him up with the outrageously overpriced baby food at the stores. 
As you can see I am forever grateful of such kind people in my own community.  To know that in today’s economy there are still willing people out there offering healthy affordable, even free, options to others is a prayer answered for my family, and many others out there.  I am not ashamed to say I am on EBT because I am not the type of person abusing the system by purchasing soda, fattening foods, candy, etc.  I am a SAHM, wife and homemaker who wants to provide healthy, nutritious meals for my family without going broke before the end of the month.    My husband works 50plus hours per week in a fiber glass filled car factory to provide for our small family of three.  We pay for our own medical, dental, and vision insurance, we have a car payment, car and renter’s property insurance,rent, electricity, baby diapers and wipes, etc. I do not work outside of the home because of beliefs, and the will to want to see all of my son’s milestones, however when he is a little bit older I will start my in-home daycare again to help with finances. Therefore you can see we are not a family prone to mooching off of others, but we are a family struggling to survive who need a little boost of financial help when it comes to providing meals for our family.  We are not proud to rely on such needs, but everyone needs a lending hand once in a while.  In respect we survive on only $75 per week of groceries, that’s not even $11 per day!  Mind you that money is divided into three: I have a newborn who eats solids twice per day on top of having bottles, and my husband and I to feed.  It isn’t easy, but we are blessed to have all the help we can get, that is why I was so excited (literally I was grinning like a kid in a candy store) to find this program at my local farmer’s market.  Maybe the program is nationwide, I don’t know, but it is something to look into if you are wanting yourself, or your family, to have a healthier option available.  Here is the link: http://doubleupfoodbucks.org/

New Way of Life

During the course of 1.5 years a number of things happened: stopped smoking, got pregnant-had a miscarriage, got pregnant again 2 months later and voilà! 80 pounds is tackled on like it was a piece of cake (or quite a number of cakes), and on top of already being overweight before any of that happened, I’m am morbidly obese.  I know from past experiences, losing 60 pounds before any of that, that losing the fat isn’t easy, but the end result is amazing!  It’s a minute by minute struggle to not pick up that slice of pizza, or indulge in the yummy deserts, and it would be so much easier to pass up on the hard workout and relax on the ever so comfy couch and cuddle with my hubby and son.  Yet, deep in the back of my mind, and in the depth of my soul, I know I can’t keep doing that.  I’m fat!  I didn’t get like this because of the baby weight or because of someone else’s decisions; I got like this because of all those bad decisions I made.  Thus, I need to make some changes.  I’m not going to call it a diet, because in actuality, all it really means is changing my eating habits, portioning my intakes, drinking no-calorie beverages, and exercising.  I need to do this for myself, but most importantly for my son.  I want to be able to run around with him next year when he begins walking, I want to be able to take him to the activities he wants to join and be involved, I don’t want him to see me as the mom on the sidelines.  Therefore, today is the start of a new day, and a start to a new way of life…a HEALTHIER, energetic, sexy, new me! 

Next Chapter With Some Valuable Lessons Learned

As God is my witness, as well as my husband, my family and friends, I have been struggling and panicking of the unknown that was falling around me.  My husband and I have been in a tremendous down burst of financial worry ever since December, and it seemed as the past three months have tagged along, the financial burden worsened instead of bettering itself.  It’s been scary. I was doing everything I could to cut corners.  I was homemaking our laundry detergent, fabric softener and fabric sheets.  I was home preparing store-bought mixes *Bisquick, corn muffins, nesquik, pancakes, etc*, we cut out our once-a-week date night evenings, we had no cell phones, and we ended up in my Grandparent’s basement.  In other words, money was tighter than tight, it was non-existent.  There were days where I would cry myself to sleep and questioning why all of this was happening to us.  We were good Christian people who tried each and every day to live by God’s eyes, why us?  If it wasn’t for our love for each other, and our faith in God, we never would have made it through.

Sooner than later I knew my Savior was going to pick me back up and dust the dust off of my knees, but the waiting process was getting hard.  We began making a back-up plan of moving back up to our home-state, Michigan, to live with my Mother-in-law, where we would be shoved into a small bedroom with just our bed and placing all of our other belongings in a friend’s garage for a few years until we picked back up on our feet financially.

However, just as I was breaking off my chains and throwing them aside, God answered my prayers: I got hired on full time as a CNA at a hospital!  My dream of becoming somebody in the health care field has come to reality.  I am so grateful for this opportunity, all I want to do is fall down on my knees and thank the God Almighty for all that He is and all that He promises and grants.

By the way, if you are wondering how I home-make a couple of my things I use on a daily basis here are the links:

Pancake Mix: http://www.armommy.com/food/home/

Bisquick Mix: http://www.ehow.com/how_4533016_homemade-bisquick-mix.html?ref=Track2

Corn Muffin Mix: http://thewelcominghouse.blogspot.com/2012/01/making-do-without-missing-thing-master_03.html

English Muffins: http://myfairbaking.blogspot.com/2012/12/homemade-english-muffins.html

Pizza Dough: http://lizziejanebaby.blogspot.com/2012/08/tasty-tuesday-homemade-pizza-dough.html

Nesquik: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/08/homemade-nesquik.html

How to regrow your green onions: http://www.bakedbyrachel.com/2011/11/kitchen-tip-green-onions/

Laundry Soap (I prefer powdered, but there is a liquid option): http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2011/07/brand-name-laundry-detergents-last.html

Fabric Softener: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/02/homemade-fabric-softener-finally.html

Fabric Sheets (I went to the thrift store and purchased $1 fleece blanket, and cut it into equal sized squares instead of cutting up washcloths.  I also use my homemade softener in this recipe.): http://thefrugalfind.com/frugal-diy-homemade-dryer-sheets/

There are a ton more things I do to save money.  In fact I’ve realized buying certain things in bulk actually saves you money and time in the long run.  An example: Cottenelle 12 Double Rolls at Walmart is $6.97, but if you buy the Cottonelle 24 Double Rolls at Walmart its $13.97.  They’re the same price in the long run, but the larger package would last twice as long, saving you time.  Example number two: Purina Dog Chow-an 18.5 lb bag costs $12.88 at Walmart, but a 46 lb bag costs $24.88 is also available at Walmart.  Buying the bigger item saves you money because you are getting more pounds for a lesser cost!   Another great hint: Walmart is not always the cheapest place for certain items.  I’ve learned to shop around for every little thing.  Sometimes I will shop at Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Super Dollar (grocery store in my neck of the woods), Walmart, Sam’s Club, Food Lion (another grocery store), etc. just to save a few extra dollars.  For instance, a 10 lb bag of granulated sugar costs around $5.58 at Walmart, but at Sam’s Club it is $4.87!

I even go to the extent of  compiling a monthly grocery list of 20 dinner meals, Sunday breakfast meals and lunches for the entire month!  This literally takes me two weeks, sometimes more, to sort out each and every recipe, compile a list of each ingredient I will need to purchase (then I calculate how much or how many of each product), then I go through my coupons and see if there are any that match the products I need.  When it comes close to the day I decide to go grocery shopping I then begin shopping around for the best deals.

My husband cannot believe all the hassle I put myself through when it comes to the grocery shopping, but when he sees the final bill and all the things I purchased he is always astonished!

In other words, I’ve learned to cut alot of corners by shopping around, clipping coupons like crazy and learning what to buy in bulk when necessary.  It has kept us on our feet for many of years, and still will in the future.

The one great thing about being economically scarce in this economy is I realized the importance of living off of the things you need and using eco-friendly versions of typical resources that are available store wide.  In fact, I’m still going to continue making things homemade and I’m still going to shop around and look forward to Sunday couponing!

In addition to clipping coupons out of my Sunday newspaper, I also visit http://www.coolsavings.com/, http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com/, http://www.craigslist.org/, I purchase All You magazines and clip out valuable coupons, I ask family and neighbors for their unused coupons, and so much more.

What are some of the ways you have handled living in tight circumstances?  Have you gone to the same stretches I have?  Are you willing to take a chance on any, if not all, of the links above?