Tears and Joys

Moving to Texas has been  H. A. R. D. Moving in general is not easy, it zaps just about every single resource. And then, just because life isn’t already hard enough a curl ball gets thrown right at your face.

Our first month was alright. We arrived at our new place and instantly wanted to demand our money back. Actually, I did. But they promised to fix the water, even though it was out of their control, and promised to replace the nasty disgusting, I wouldn’t even wash my pet dog in that tub, which they did.

We got our stuff on time and we only lost a few things from poor packing. Shipping our stuff was most definitely the BEST DECISION EVER! Then we spent the rest of the month getting used to the Texas heat and humidity (Still not used to it).

OD delivery

June turned into July and we thought life was going well. We visited our farmer friends, The Dragon’s! We celebrated Mr. Wonderful’s birthday and had a fun 4th setting off fireworks.

Dragons

August came, and we just pretend August 2016 didn’t happen. The domino of events last month were devastating and heart breaking. As I heal from the roller coaster, I will share all the bumps and pits of August.

Now, we are in September. The floods of August receded but left some pretty deep wounds. As we try to pick ourselves up, we have had some hiccups (Budget? What budget? You mean, crap what did we spend our grocery budget on…)

But moving to Texas, hasn’t been all “OMG WHAT DID WE DO?!?!” We have had some really wonderful moments.

Like taking Mr. Z to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

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Visiting my mom’s parents in San Antonio.

Grandparents

And frog catching in Dallas, at my cousin’s son’s birthday party.

Frog catching in Azle

Right now, we are holding on to the things that bring us Joy here in Texas.  Like slowing down and making cookies with Mr. Z.

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90 Days In

April 1st, marks us at a just over 90 days into the this year. While I never came out and posted my goals for the year, I made some. There is the classic lose weight and get healthy, be more organized, and don’t go crazy. But I didn’t want to set myself up for failure with some crazy, lose 60 pound goal. I wanted to actually feel that I was making changes for the best.

This is the year that I get healthy, lose weight, and enjoy life.

Side plank, couldn't do this last year!
Side plank, couldn’t do this last year!

I then broken down this overall goal into small stages, with evaluating at the quarter. The first quarter, January through March, is over and I am not sure how I feel about it.

One thing I wanted to do, was a 90 day Whole30, made it 30 and crashed and burned. I have been meaning to do another 30 day round, but with the move, my mind has been elsewhere. (Have I not given details on our cross country move? I will have to work on that.)

I also wanted to finish Jillian Michaels 90 day Body Revolution. But I also want to run. Doing both, keeping a running training schedule and doing an intense daily workout program, was hard and I needed to listen to by body and not burn myself out.

With running, I have a goal to run 500 miles this year. Right now I am at, 48 miles, which is way under where I should be. (I should be logging 125 miles a quarter, about 40 miles a month, 10 miles a week, and running 4 days a week puts me at needing to run about 2.5 miles a day. To catch up, I neeguarwd to up to 4 miles a run day.)

The other thing that I am doing is trying to follow the recommendations of my doctor, taking the supplements that I need to for my deficiencies and not eating all the foods to which I have intolerance. I am not suppose to eat; gluten, dairy, legumes, corn, and sugar. (Basically, Whole30 is what I am suppose to eat all the time.) My original plan was take one out a quarter, compounding it. Gluten first, followed by dairy. Gluten has gone well, I have not willingly consumed gluten (I might have accidentally eaten some, but never on purpose.) Dairy, is going to be hard.

80 percent

Overall, quarter one, was good. Workouts happened, and health changes are happening. Looking forward to improving and continuing onward.

 

Fight like a Cactus

A few days ago on Instagram, I posted this picture:

My fighting cactus
My fighting cactus

I talked a little about postpartum depression, and I wanted to talk a little more about it.

First off, IT IS REAL. It manifests differently in people, and in some people it triggers other things. For me it was this weird fog that was consistent for almost 3 years! I was just kind of existing. I jumped into a bunch of parenting groups thinking it would help me find myself. Instead, it just made me crazy busy and exhausted. Parenting groups are great, I learned a lot and make some really great close friends.

But what I was missing was finding myself after baby.

This is something that isn’t talked about, how to find yourself again after baby. I don’t think I could do this topic justice. I want to share how I got out of the fog.

NUMBER ONE: You, not someone else, needs to recognize you are being true to yourself.

Going to get help, because someone else is telling you, can make it harder for you to see that you need help. If you are like me you just dig your heels in and fight back.

NUMBER TWO: Find the help that works for you.

This is hard. I tried what I thought was everything; acupuncture, counseling, essential oils, medications. Nothing really helped. Then I tried, just being healthier; diet changes, exercising, and just getting outside. This helped the most. It wasn’t until an underlying medical issue was found, that the fog lifted.

NUMBER THREE: If it works, DON’T STOP!

Seriously. Why change what works? I know we get bored, but stick with it.

Fighting for 3 years, is a long time. I am grateful Mr. Wonderful didn’t walk away, I wasn’t best wife or personal to get along with. Am I 100%? Nope, I am still working on getting back to my old self. Everyday I get closer, and it helps me to see the improvements that I have made, just like my little cactus.

Mr. Wonderful and I
Mr. Wonderful and I

 

January Whole30: Day 26

I can not believe that this January Whole30 is almost over, and I have not been writing about it. Let me give you a brief overview of the things we, as a family, learned so far this month.

Mr. Wonderful learned that changing your diet is HARD!

He was really surprised that at work he was finding himself jealous of people eating non-compliant foods. He told me he never realized how hard it has been for me to make these changes and developed a new appreciation for how hard I try.

Vegetables are CHEAP

I have been really surprised at our last few grocery bills. When I try to keep the bill under $100, I usually don’t make it. But our last 3 trips where right around $80. And this month, was the first month that we didn’t blow out the grocery budget. (I will say that we did go over, but only by $4.74!)

Workouts

Other rounds of Whole30 have just been purely about the food. This time I have been working out too. And I have motivation to go workout and I am finding that I am pushing myself. And the scale, whoa! It is moving! (Yes, I know weighing yourself is breaking a Whole30 rule, but I am doing a challenge with some friends and we have to weigh in weekly.)

Cooking Creativity

This came along as I was either lazy about preparing dinner or because I chose not to get something because of cost. Sweet Potatoes are great bases for almost anything.

Children model our behavior

I think most of us know this already, but it has really been shown to us. Mr. Z turns 3 soon and is pretty good about eating vegetables. He has even told Mr. Wonderful he needs to eat more!

 

It has been fun and an interesting experiment for our little family. I am glad I decided to do this as a family. I know it will help make the next two month easier.

Budget Whole30 Woes

If you have read the Whole30.com article on budgeting a Whole30, you might of thought, “oh that was so not helpful!” I personally felt like it was another regurgitation of what almost every budget friendly grocery shopping article has said. EVER.

Then a few days ago I saw on Instagram that they were going to do a whole month of Whole30 budget tips and highlighted someone. I looked at them and some of their “small town” budget tips and I just had to scream, “TRADER JOE’S IS NOT SMALL TOWN!!”

Seriously!

Alright, all you health food people!

I live in a small town and the closes Trader Joe’s is over an hour away! Here are my grocery shopping options:

Walmart (BOO!)
Safeway
Dissmores (IGA, a local chain that is crazy expensive)

Now we do have a couple of specialty shops, a Asian market and a Middle Eastern market.

 

But I don’t actually grocery shop in my town, I drive 15 minutes to the next town over and shop at Winco (low prices!! Better than Walmart, see) and at the local health food store for random things Winco doesn’t carry. I am lucky to have a health food store that close to me.

So how does a person actually do Whole30 on a strict budget.

I meal plan, everything. Snacks, lunch, breakfast, everything.
We eat a lot of chicken, because it is cheap.
I don’t buy grass-fed, I get 93/7 normal ground beef at Winco.
We eat a lot of potatoes, carrots, and frozen green beans.
I make a lot from scratch, like almond milk.
I save reusable bits for broth or for adding to other dishes.

Follow along as I share, real life tips for doing Whole30 with a very limited budget.

 

Budgeting, 3 months later.

Well, it has been 3 months since we decided we really need to start budgeting, and really controlling our money. 3 months of budget meetings, saving receipts, checking the bank statements and writing down everything.

In the last 3 months we have learned:
-we really have no money
-food is ridiculously expensive
-medical expenses kill your savings
-we are poor
-having “fun” money, will save your sanity
-budgeting to splurge, makes the splurge more fun
-living at the poverty line is no fun

Budgeting is really hard. Especially when, you take your paycheck and put it to every bill and then there isn’t even enough for groceries.

Our end of the month budget meeting for October and the beginning of November, really had us questioning, is this working? November is month 4 we should be seeing improvements, or at least that’s what all the gurus say. This month we had to dip into the student loans we took out in August. The loans we were really hoping we wouldn’t touch and could say we don’t want more. The loans that we had to use to buy groceries this week.

This has got us thinking, what else can we do to cut expenses? Go down to one phone? Have me go and get a night shift job? Should we apply for some government assistance? What can we sell?

This Sunday was our Church’s Fast Sunday. We decided to fast together as a couple about what to do.

This is what we know we need to do:

  1. Get our savings back up as fast as possible to at least $1500.
  2. Payoff and close that last credit card.

We could just completely drain our savings and pay of the credit card. Be done and able to stop having one more payment due off of our first paycheck every month.

But what if anything happens? What if we have a major car repair? What if someone has to go to the hospital? What if?

Praying for an extra $500 to just appear, is impractical.

Does budgeting get easier with more money?

 

But Mommy’s Aren’t Supposed to go Away.

Mr. Z hasn’t been feeling well the last couple of days, and so along with lots of snuggles, naps, and chocolate, there has been a lot of TV time.

Sick, chocolate covered Mr. Z
Sick, chocolate covered Mr. Z

One movie he keeps requesting has been “Radar the Police Car” or as it is actually titled, Bold Eagles. It is a cute little animated movie about a nature preserve in Norway, called Eagle Park. Some poachers come in and start taking the animals. They take the Mommy Eagle, before her egg can hatch. Radar, starts to care for the eaglet, and the eaglet, Scruffy, starts calling Radar mommy.

Source: http://www.imdb.com

At the end, Radar is telling Scruffy, that the Eagle is his REAL mommy. To which the eaglet replies, “But mommies aren’t supposed to go away.”

I don’t know how many times in the last 3 three years, I have personally said that.

In casual conversation, people will sometimes say things like, “My mom, is going to outlive me.” or “Mother’s can’t die.”

I know they mean well, and I don’t walk around with a sign that says, don’t talk about mothers not dying, mine is dead.

But today I heard that line, I just just wanted to turn into a puddle.

But mommies aren’t supposed to go away.

My mother wasn’t the picture perfect mother, and most of the time I have to think really hard to remember the good. But she is my mine. While she might not be here today, and I can’t just call her whenever I have a question. I still feel her presence.

My parents at my wedding, May 2009
My parents at my wedding, May 2009

When loved ones pass before us, do they really leave us?

Personally, I don’t think so.

So even though, physically my mom is not here, I think she is still around, smiling and laughing with right along side us.

Mr. Z kissing grandma Nancy, April 30, 2015, her 60th birthday.
Mr. Z kissing grandma Nancy, April 30, 2015, her 60th birthday.

 

Budget: Software

Our first month of budgeting is done, and man it was bad.

Overbudget

In one word… yup, we had already spent our entire budgeted total and have gone over by the middle of the month.

We took this month as more of a how much do we really spend, so that we can figure this budgeting thing out. Check out this post about what we, or at least I learned while budgeting in August.

It was very eye opening.

We started the month using Everydollar. About halfway through we do not like the EveryDollar budgeting tool from Dave Ramsey. Our income is so inconsistent, and we feel like he teaches more towards a salary based income.

So we went looking, and tried a couple different budgeting tools out there and we have come to love the newest version of YNAB. Now, we have used YNAB before, the original version, what an upgrade!

The sleek new budget.
The sleek new budget.

 

First off it is so much more visually appealing, and it also, isn’t an excel file, it is its own freaking program now.

Statistical Reports!
Statistical Reports!

I really like the statistical reports you can print from YNAB. They have a bunch of free webinars about their software. I have only taken one so far and you can also sign up for their emails and they send out a bunch of short email lessons.

Their philosophy in very much in line with Dave’s, but we feel like it is a little more reasonable and forgiving. Like their overall goal is to get you out the the paycheck to paycheck cycle. Which is where we are. We know we need to get out of debt, but when you aren’t sure if you can have enough for groceries and rent, you have a bigger problem.

Check them out. I will say this, you have to buy YNAB to use the budget past the 32 day free trail (If someone knows why 32 days, let me know!) It is $60. One time though! and you have software rights for life! Dave’s software, you can get it linked to your bank for $99 a year…

And YNAB is not linked to your bank, which for those of us worried about the internet stealing your life, this is nice.

 

Budget: August, a Review

 

Well, August has come to a close, we stuck to budgeting.

We did not stick to our agreed upon budget.

Life happens, and I was shocked when come the middle of the month, and our budget was no longer fitting.

Dave Ramsey’s budget tools were not working for us and so we switched to YNAB, click here for a short review of why we like YNAB better.

I wanted to give a summary of what we learned in our first month of budgeting.

  1. Gazelle Intensity is not for us.
    1. while we REALLY want to get out of debt, we are not ready to give up the few extras we have.
  2. Saying “NO!” is really really really hard.
    1. Saying it to your two year old at the grocery store, “No, I am sorry you can’t have crackers, we can’t afford them this week.” Made me want to cry, and I felt like the meanest mother in the ENTIRE world.
  3. Pray before a Budget Meeting
    1. Dave closes his radio show saying something like, “You can’t reach financial peace without walking daily with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.”
    2. Praying together, just made our budget meeting go smoothly, we will be doing this always before our bi-weekly budget meeting.
  4. Have a budget meeting at every pack check
    1. We started just me figuring it out and Mr. Wonderful looking it over and approving it. It worked, but having a meeting, where WE BOTH sat down to hash out what went where made it easier to say NO!, later.
    2. Mr. Wonderful gets paid every other week, so we hold bi-week sit down budget meetings. Any other income, if under $1,000 we just have a quick verbal confirmation on where it goes.
  5. Share!
    1. I want to tell everyone, we are being weird and trying this budgeting thing. Hey, this crazy thing is happening while we do it, I like my husband more!
  6. Increase Intimacy
    1. And no I am not talking sex
    2. I am talking about mental intimacy.
      1. I am an analytical thinker and so is Mr. Wonderful, so talking numbers and trying to find extra money has brought us closer. I like it.
  7. Make Mistakes and have fun.
    1. We did not give each other any spending money in August, MISTAKE. It just made it miserable. This month we have decided fun money needs to be included.

After this first month, and looking at where all the money went we have decided some budget line items that need to be tightened. Number one on our list to get reduced is how much we spend on food.

Yikes!
Yikes!

We spent almost $600 just on food. Not just groceries. On groceries we spent over $400, on eating out including dates we spent over $150. This does not need to be this outrageous. Our goal for September spent half of this!

It wont be easy, and telling Mr. Z that our grocery shopping lunch dates of Mac ‘N Cheese from the co-op deli are over is going to result in some serious tears. Hopefully, he will understand.

Whole: Cleaning and Decluttering with FlyLady

When I feel like life is running me over, I always revert back to what basics am I not doing.

Lately, I feel like the chaos in my house is controlling me, not me control it. So, back to a daily routine I go. I have this vision, of what I want my routines to be, but it doesn’t happen. Because of life, toddler meltdowns, or my own laziness.

Years ago, a friend told me about FlyLady. I have started and stopped, flapped and crashed. I really like FlyLady and her baby steps.

Especially, step one, which some days is all I can do.

Shine your sink.

Seriously, I am lazy. I don’t want to be. I would love to have a spotless house, and not have to look for random things.

Now that my methylated B Vitamins are starting to kick in, I am feeling so energized. I am jumping in and starting FlyLady again! Here is my email I sent as part of my Babystep Day 2!

Dear FlyLady,

I don’t know how many times I have started your baby steps. But recently I have been feeling overwhelmed, and I was cleaning out my email, and I found a folder of saved emails from you. And I thought, why not. 15 minutes, and maybe in a few weeks we might be actually eating dinner at the table. Low expectations I know, but every month I tell myself this month, we will be eating dinner at the table before the month is over. I hope by Sept 13th, I can tell you we are!

Here is my shining sink. Plus, for the first time since elementary school I have tomorrows outfit picked out.

My shiny sink
My shiny sink