Friday, August 31, 2012

September Savings Challenge

September brings back paychecks for me and a new chance to finally, maybe, get our budget under control. I have been thinking long and hard about trying to get some sort of budget together and FINALLY getting our budget under control.

The last year has been a killer on our finances. We thought that we had things under control last year. Then I got pregnant with Benjamin and I had to go on bed rest for a few months and since I was on bed rest that meant no paycheck. So any savings/paying off debt went by the wayside.

So when Carla from My 1/2 Dozen Daily decided to offer up a September Savings Challenge I decided to sign up.

As I was thinking about what my goals should be this is what I came up with....

Use my paychecks to pay Rebecca's school tuition.
Be able to make at least double the minimum payment on credit card #1 (CC#1).
At the end of the month, take whatever is left over from my paychecks and put on CC#1.
Spend no more than $400 on food, $50 on diapers, and $25 on household supplies.

I think this is doable. Bill and I were talking about the necessity of paying off debt. We both finally feel that this is what we need to do. So hopefully I can start doing that this month.

So there you have it. There is my September Savings Challenge.

Thank you Carla for bringing this on.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A day in my life....

Things have been CRAZY around here the last 2 weeks, with me going back to work, Rebecca starting school, fall sports starting meaning Bill is basically at work 24/7 and the boys growing up like weeds means my life is pretty crazy.....

Tonight as I was thinking about this craziness I thought what does a day look like right now for me and this is a general idea of what a day in my life consists of:

6:20am--alarm goes off, get up, shower, get dressed, Bill leaves to walk to work
6:50 am--wake Rebecca up so she can get dressed
7:00 am--head downstairs, make Rebecca and Jacob breakfast
7:10 am--back upstairs, wake Jacob, change his diaper, get him dressed, bring him downstairs to start breakfast
7:15am-- do Rebecca's hair for school while she is eating breakfast
7:20am-- go back upstairs, wake Benjamin, change his diaper, bring him downstairs, put in car seat
7:25 am--shoes on everyone, and out the door to take Rebecca to school
7: 55 or so--back home with the boys, Jacob finishes breakfast, make Benjamin a  bottle
8:00-8:30 am feed Benjamin,
8:30-9:30--- make and eat breakfast for me, check email and facebook, turn on cartoons for kids
9:30-11--- clean house, unload dishwasher, laundry, etc. think about dinner, make dinner and put in fridge to heat up later, give Jacob a bath.
11-11:45--- change Benjamin, make him cereal and a bottle, feed and burp him
11:45-12:45---pick Bill up from work, figure out lunches for Jacob, me and Bill
12:45-1:15---clean up kitchen from lunch, check email once before head to work.
1:15-1:30---sit and talk to Bill
1:30-1:45-- freshen up for work (brush teeth, etc)
1:45-- leave for work
2-6-- work
6:10-7-- home, heat up dinner, feed kids,feed Benjamin say hi and bye to Bill (he leaves for work)
7-7:30-- eat my dinner
7:30-8 --clean up kitchen, sweep dining room floor
8-830 --make formula for following day, help kids clean up the toys and books that are out, kids get a snack
8:30 --Jacob in bed, Benjaming playing in our bedroom floor, Rebecca bathed
9:00 --get Rebecca in bed
9- 10-- get Benjamin bathed, in pjs, fed and in bed
10- 11 --do last minute stuff, fold clothes, get things ready for the morning.
11 (ideally)--fall into bed asleep.

Man it makes me tired just to think about this. And this is just a normal day. There are also days I have to do snack shopping for work, home food shopping, etc. It is crazy.
No wonder I am exhausted most nights! I would love to find some me time in there, but am not sure how/when I could......

What does your daily schedule look like? How do you work in me time?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You can win prizes!!

You know by now that I am a contestant on this season of Win, Lose or Blog! But did you know that YOU CAN WIN PRIZES TOO!!!!

Here is the scoop:

Hey fitness friends!!! The Win, Lose, or Blog mini-contest has been hugely popular and we will be doing it again this season! We are holding our "mini-contest" along side the main Win, Lose, or Blog contest! We would love our followers to play along, get healthy, and win prizes in the process! Heres what you have to do:

Each Tuesday on Win, Lose, or Blog we will post our contestant updates on the main blog- just comment each week with your weekly loss. On the final Tuesday post of our 7 week competition- post your TOTAL pounds lost for the duration of the season and you have the chance to win some fabulous prizes! (No need to post actual weights- just the # of pounds lost each week).

Start today- comment on Win, Lose, or Blog HERE saying you want to join our mini contest. That's all you have to do to join in on the fun. Try to post your losses (gains or stalls) on each of Win, Lose, or Blog's Tuesday posts. as your participation gets you closer to a prize. Dont forget to weigh yourself to have a starting point. 

At least one of our "mini-contest" contestants will take home a fantastic prize. The last 3 seasons TWO mini-contest winners took home prizes. This contest is based on the honor system but pounds lost will not be the only factor taken into consideration for prize distribution. We will also take into account how actively you follow our blog. So join in the fun, get healthy and WIN some awesome loot!
  • We will still be posting our sponsor thank you posts on Thursdays & Fridays- support our sponsors by liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, and leaving comments on our sponsor posts 
  • We will still have some fabulous Friday giveaways. Our giveaways are open to contestants, mini-contest contestants, and all of our blog followers/ readers- so show our sponsors some love & enter to win!!!!
  • We will still have awesome motivation postshealthy recipes and cooking tips, and exercise information on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays!
  • We will still be rewarding at least one active WLB commenter with fantastic prizes this season- so comment on the main blog, the contestants blogs, join our mini contest, and enter our giveaways as each comment throughout the season will get you that much closer to winning a fab prize! Add our button to your blog, blog about us, help us spread the word about WLB and get some extra entries to win some of our follower prizes!
  • Join us on Facebook and Twitter so you don't miss out on any of the exciting WLB happenings!
Happy losses all!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Win, Lose, or Blog challenge starts today!

The Win, Lose, or Blog challenge starts today! I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the contestants! I am over on that blog today....come over and follow along and wish me luck!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Life is crazy

Life has been CRAZY this past week.

Here are some of the highlights:
  • Rebecca started back to school. She is in Kindergarten this year (this week she goes half days, next week M,W,F are full days and T,TH are half days, then she will go full day everyday after Labor Day!) That means that are bedtime routines and getting up routines have been drastically changed and we are still figuring out what works best.

  • I have had a bad earache that has meant no sleep for 2 nights. Went to Urgent Care yesterday and I have a bad case of swimmers' ear. (Haven't been swimming for over 2 years but still contracted it??) Now I am on meds and it is feeling a little better today. (This doctor appointment and waiting for meds took me 2.5 hours!)
  • Work started back for me on Tuesday. I only work in the afternoons, but it has been a struggle to get everything done I need to get done. Need to find balance between work and home.
  • Dinner has been whatever you can find---still trying to figure that one out, as my work hours are during the time I would normally be cooking and having dinner with the kiddos.
  • It is the start of the fall sports seasons for the high schools around here, so that means Bill has been extra busy with work and it seems like one of us is always coming or going. (and we only have one car so it is a juggle to keep our schedules so the car is available when the other person needs it).
  • The house is a mess. I didn't get any decluttering done in August and am trying to find the balance between keeping the everyday chores up when I am exhausted.
  • The Win, Lose, or Blog challenge officially starts on Monday and I haven't thought about my plan of action for it.
I just feel like I am a chicken with my head cut off most days. I know that it will get easier but I need to get into a routine and then it will work I think. Hopefully I can survive until then....

How about you? Is life crazy busy right now? Do you have any tips or techniques to share to help ease the craziness we call life?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Time once again for Sunday Night Chit-Chat...hosted by our friend Carla!
To play along simply start your post with a photo or quote... Copy and paste the starters and link up to Carla so she and others can visit you and see what you've been up to!

photo credit: pinterest

What are you.....



Nothing right now.

Listening to?

Right now the kiddos are watching "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" on TV.
Listening to the rain.


I made homemade pico de gallo for a cookout tonight. It was the first time I had ever made it and I think it was a hit as we didn't have any to bring back home!

Happy you accomplished this week?

Lost 1.8 lbs!
No soda for a week! .
Looking forward to next week?

School starts back this week, which means work starts back!
Rebecca starts Kindergarten.
Getting started on the "Win, Lose, or Blog" ideas and plan.
Thankful for today?

Good weather for most of the weekend.
A nice picnic to kick off back to school for my daughter's school.

Bonus question:
As a famous athlete, you are offered a $500,000 endorsement to promote a product that you dislike and would NEVER use. Do you endorse it?

Nope. I would not. If I don't use it and would NEVER use it then why would I want my name to be behind it. The money would be nice, but if I was a famous athlete, I am sure there are other products out there that I would be offered to endorse that would go with who I am as a person.
So there you have it. A little glimpse into my world on this Sunday night! Hope everyone has a wonderful week and remember to link up to our wonderful chat host Carla! :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Yay! I got picked!!!!

Do you remember a couple weeks ago when I talked about applying to be a contestant in a weight loss competition called "Win, Lose, or Blog." ( If you don't you can read about that here).

win, lose, or blog

Well... I just got an email tonight to let me know that I have been chosen as one of the 8 contestants!!! I am SO EXCITED!!!!

As many of you may know, I so want and need to lose weight. I have been overweight much of my life and I WANT to be healthier. I believe that this opportunity is such a blessing and I can't wait to get started!!!

I hope you will follow my journey and wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Unjunk Your Junk Food

Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks by Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer is basically a cheat sheet on what snacks are healthier for you to eat. The authors challenge you, the reader, to make changes in your diet in order to become healthier without feeling deprived of your favorite junk food. Unjunk Your Junk Food is a quick guide that shows you healthy alternative to your favorite conventional brand junk food. And by junk food I mean everything from potato chips, dips, cookies, cakes, pop, soda, and my personal vice--chocolate!

The authors begin their book by outlying how to eat healthier junk food. How to look for the worst ingredients for you to avoid and how to look for ingredients that are better for you. They offer over 170 pages of alternatives to your conventional junk food. And they tell you why the conventional junk food is on their bad list and how the choices they suggest are better. They also identify the Worst Ingredients that you should avoid including: High Fructose Corn Syrup, anything listed as “partially hydrogenated” or “hydrogenated,” MSG, artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives.

I found that this book to be enlightening just by seeing what some of the worst offenders are. I have been thinking long and hard about changing our eating habits as I am trying to lose weight and now that my kids are getting older they are asking for more snacks and I want to give them options that I feel good about them eating.

I was disappointed that many of the items that the authors suggest are organic and thus are much more expensive than their counterparts at the store. Being on a limited budget I don’t know that I can “unjunk” all of our junk food, but I can be more aware of what we are eating and try to keep the worst offenders out of our house.

That being said, there were some things that the authors suggested that I already do buy---one example was ice cream (something my hubby, kids and I love). The authors suggest that the Savvy pick is for Breyers Smooth and Dreamy ½ fat ice cream as your best pick. I have a tub of that in my freezer right now! J I was also disappointed in that many of the items they suggest, they do not sell here where I live. I grocery shop at Kroger, Aldi and Walmart. Many of the items the authors suggest are not available here because of lack of interest.

I did take several things away from reading this book though. I feel I have a better understanding of some of the worst offenders when it comes to ingredients in junk food--can someone say artificial butter flavor among others. I feel like I know what to look for and not look for when I look at nutritional labels on items. I feel like I can make better choices as to what I feed my kids, even if I can’t afford to buy all organic or all natural. I can make better choices, maybe not the best choices according to the authors but better ones that are more informed.

If you are looking for a quick reference guide to what junk foods to avoid or to substitute, then Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks is for you!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Time once again for Sunday Night Chit-Chat...hosted by our friend Carla!
To play along simply start your post with a photo or quote... Copy and paste the starters and link up to Carla so she and others can visit you and see what you've been up to!


What are you.....



Listening to?

Right now the kiddos are watching "The Sword and the Stone" on TV.


I made a taco ring and rice tonight, which EVERYONE liked! Even the kids! :)

Happy you accomplished this week?

Lost 2.5 pounds!!!!!
Giving up soda.
Got the front lawn bushes trimmed.
Looking forward to next week?

Hubby not having to work so many hours.
Staff meeting at work. (School starts in a week and a half, and since I will be working again, that means I will start getting paychecks again. No work over the summer means no pay.)
Hopefully sneaking in a date night with dear Hubby.
Thankful for today?

My children and my husband.

Bonus question:
When it comes to shopping for clothes for yourself, what item do you have the hardest time saying "no" to?

I actually have a hard time buying clothes for myself. Buying clothes for Bill, Rebecca, Jacob or Benjamin---no problem. I always find something at fault with clothes when I do try to buy clothes for me. So that being said there are really no items that I couldn't say no to.
So there you have it. A little glimpse into my world on this Sunday night! Hope everyone has a wonderful week and remember to link up to our wonderful chat host Carla! :)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bye Bye Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke!

I have decided in an effort to help with my weight loss challenge and in an effort to just be healthier, I am giving up ALL SODA!!!

I realized the other day that I drank 2 -12 packs of Diet Pepsi in one week! That is ridiculous.

Not only will it be better for my waistline, but it will be better for my wallet too...a win, win! :)

There will still be pop in the house...Hubby HAS to have his Mountain Dew. That stuff is way too sweet for me, so it is not a temptation.

Now I know that you have to replace bad habits with good ones, or at least better ones in order to make a change work. So what will I be replacing pop with??

My plan is to keep water bottles in the fridge door ready to go. Also I will be enjoying more iced green tea. As I was looking for an alternative today, I found this lovely box in my pantry cabinet....Can you say Yummy?!

I am doing this for a wide variety of reasons, including:
  • I am trying to cut my sugar consumption down, and everything I have read says that diet pop may lead you to want more sugary things
  • I want to lessen my need for caffeine
  • I am trying to lose weight, and new studies have shown that dieters who drink diet pop actually lose less weight than those who don't
  • I just want to be healthier and feel better
So that is the why and the what. Please wish me luck as I have a feeling this is going to be hard.

Have you given up a bad habit like drinking diet soda? Any tips or words of encouragement?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Win, Lose, or Blog!

I have applied to be a contestant on the healthy weight loss competition,  Win, Lose, or Blog! They are now accepting applications (here) for Season eight contestants.

 Last season their 7 contestants lost over 100 pounds in 7 weeks! Win, Lose, or Blog is a Big Loser inspired weight loss challenge for the blogging world. Health & Fitness are my passions in life and I hope this competition will inspire others to lead healthier lifes too! 

What does Win, Lose, or Blog have to offer you?
Want to be a contestant? Apply here.

Each season of the challenge (lasting 7 weeks) we will choose eight contestants. This is your chance to win some MAJOR prizes! Each contestnat that follows through to the end will win awesome prizes and the "big loser" (based on percentage of body weight lost) will win even more!

Want to Play along?
Want to lose weight right along with the contestants? Post your weekly loss each week on their Tuesday Update post and you're in the running for some fantastic prizes! Last season TWO mini-contestants won fabulous prizes and lost a TON of weight in the process.

Just want to follow along?
They have multiple health and fitness gurus on their team who are going to be posting information, recipes, tips, inspiration and more. So come follow and get a little help living a healthier lifestyle. Also, at the end of each season followers will win awesome prizes just for leaving comments throughout the season. And you know it will be fun to watch the competition play out and cheer on the contestants :)

Go check it out!!! And spread the word!

Weekly to do list (a day late)

Last week's list of goals was kind of a catch up week. This week's goals will be more in preparation for school and work to be starting back up full time in 2 weeks time. (Where oh where did summer go?)

Here is how I did last week:
  • cut up peppers from the farmer's market (2 weekends ago) for the freezer (Yep...did this yesterday but it got done! :)
  • figure out what is needed for Rebecca for school and start looking for the best prices DONE--got all her school supplies yesterday
  • date night with Bill--DONE--Bill took me to a restaurant about 45 minutes away just because I was wanting a piece of their coconut cream pie! I love my hubby!
  • Read a chapter of "Every Day a Friday" each night ---KIND OF--- I have read about 5 chapters in it.
  • Clean out, sort and organize arts and crafts cart ---DONE
  • Call and schedule Benjamin's Baptism ---DONE
  • Count calories of everything I eat and record in food journal ---KIND OF--- I did good on most days, I think I recorded everything 4/7 days
  • clean and organize desk area ---UMM....NOPE unless you count finding the missing shelf piece and putting it on the desk
  • Take 3 boxes of stuff that is sitting in the hallway to Goodwill to donate ---DONE 
  • Mow grass (or get Bill to) and apply weed stuff on driveway ----FAIL--- This is the only one I didn't even do. Bill did mow the grass but the weeds are the priority right now and every time I think of it it is raining or there is a threat of storms.
So last week wasn't too bad. This week I am focusing on trying to get some systems into place to allow for a smooth transition to back to work and school. I hope they work.
  • go to bed before 11:30 each night (truth be told, I would like to be in bed by 11pm)
  • get Jacob in bed by 8:45, Rebecca in bed by 9pm.
  • menu plan for the week
  • clean and organize desk area
  • apply weed stuff on driveway and steps
  • trim the bushes in front of our house
  • list bakers rack on craigslist
  • list baby clothes on eBay
  • do all laundry in house and get caught up with it
  • find and make a low calorie, low sugar zucchini bread
  • read at least 1 chapter of Every Day a Friday each night
  • research preschool activities I can do with Jacob while Rebecca is in school
  • exercise at least 3x this week, either with a dvd or by walking to/from work
I think that is enough for now. I hope I can have another successful week in fulfilling my to dos. Hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Bull's Head Roast

This past weekend my parents hosted a Mexican barbacoa de cabeza in honor of a couple of their friends from Mexico. Basically this translates to a barbecue of a cow's head-- aka. a bull's head roast. (if you want to read more about it's origins, adaptations, etc. wikipedia has a nice article on it!). My parents' hosted as they have land needed to dig a hole to roast the bull's head in.

There was many different sections of the bull's head to choose from...tongue, eyeball, brain, cheek meat, and palette meat. The meat was served  on top of warm tortillas, with traditional mole style sauce made by my Mom's Mexican friend, guacamole, salsa, onions, diced cilantro and a squirt of lime juice.

Here was the bull's head after being cooked and before it was carved.
You can see it was wrapped in banana leaves and tinfoil during the roasting part of it.

There was also other food for those of us who did not eat the bull's head...including grilled chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, macaroni salad, veggies, chips, fruit, etc. It was a fun yummy time!

Now, I will say this. I personally did NOT eat any of the bull's head. I was just not brave enough. Actually, it was kind of funny...NONE of the women there tried it. The men were all for it. My dad was the last hold out on the men's side, but after he had a couple few beers he was brave enough and he even went back for seconds! LOL

My mom made it fun for the kiddos there by having a cow shaped pinata filled with candy for the kids.

Rebecca was the first to get a swing at the pinata...she actually knocked it's head off during her first swing!

Roberto (my parent's friend from Mexico) dumped the rest of the candy out of the pinata for the kiddos

Another bull's head-- this one much cuter than the real one :)

It was a fun filled evening...full of adventurous men eating new things, women sticking to the traditional BBQ food, kids having fun and lots of laughs and fun!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Time once again for Sunday Night Chit-Chat...hosted by our friend Carla!
To play along simply start your post with a photo or quote... Copy and paste the starters and link up to Carla so she and others can visit you and see what you've been up to!


This is a photo from a "Bulls Head Roast" that my parents hosted this weekend. A "Bulls Head Roast" is a Mexican tradition that my parents thought would be fun to co-host with good friends of theirs who are from Mexico. They roasted the bull's head all night Friday night into Saturday afternoon and then had a fiesta Saturday night. This was taken from the hill behind their house. (I will have more pics and fun from the festivities later this week, including a pic of the actual bulls head!)

What are you.....


I am still reading Every Day a Friday  by Joel Osteen. My problem is I have been staying up WAY too late watching the Olympics and not scheduling in reading time. Now that it is mostly track and field on I will probably have more time at night after the kids go to bed.


I have been watching the Olympics.  :)

Listening to?

Right now the kiddos are watching "Special Agent Oso" on TV. and the hum of the air conditioner. 


Sadly not much cooking or baking has been going on. We have been eating out WAY too much. That is going to stop now. I am hoping to make some zucchini bread this week. I am trying to find a recipe that does not have so much sugar in it.

Happy you accomplished this week?

I finished all school supply shopping for Rebecca, including uniforms.
I got to get some work hours in and felt like I actually accomplished something.
Looking forward to next week?

Cleaning house. My plan is to get each room deep cleaned before school starts in 2 weeks. May be a tall order but I need to get it done.  

Thankful for today?

That I have parents who do crazy host a "Bull's Head Roast" (more to come about that later in the week!)
That we were able to get all of Rebecca's supplies and not spend a fortune. 

Bonus question:
What hobby have you always wanted to learn? Do you plan on trying to learn? Why or why not?

I would love to learn how to sew. I can sew on a button. I can fix a rip in a toy. But I saw this cute idea online about lengthening one shirt by using another shirt added to it and I would LOVE to be able to do that  (due to the fact that MOST of my shirts have shrunk and are too short for my liking)but it requires a sewing machine. I borrowed my mom's. I read the instructions. I followed an online tutorial about using it. It got jammed and I couldn't get it to work right. My mom came over and showed me how to use it. The moment she left it got jammed again and I just cannot get it to work. I give up. I will probably just continue to admire others' sewing talents and go buy myself new shirts! LOL :)
So there you have it. A little glimpse into my world on this Sunday night! Hope everyone has a wonderful week and remember to link up to our wonderful chat host Carla! :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

School uniforms

Rebecca is starting Kindergarten this year! I am excited. I am sad. I have a lot of mixed emotions about this. We are sending her to the same school where she attended Pre-K. In Kindergarten through 8th grade the kids MUST wear uniforms. So off to buy uniforms I go...

I looked on the websites that the school recommended and I almost choked at the prices....$40 for a uniform jumper, and that doesn't include shipping. EEK!

Went on ebay. The uniforms are going for close to retail. EEK!

Then my mom told me about a uniform store in a town about 45 minutes away that sells used school uniforms. So off we went today....and this is what I got for a total of $51.00.

2 jumpers, a pair of uniform shorts and a sweater for winter! Now all I need to get her are socks and shoes and I am set for her clothes! :) (We already have her polos with the logo on the collar that her school requires!)

Do your kids' wear uniforms to school? How do you keep the costs down?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Benjamin is 4 months old today!

Benjamin has grown in leaps and bounds since my last monthly update. I somehow forgot to do a 3 month update (oops!) but that is life. So here is his 4 month update! I can't believe he is 4 months old already!

At 4 months old he is:
  • eating 8 ounces of formula at each feeding (every 3-4 hours)
  • he got his first feeding of rice cereal today.
  • he has outgrown all of his 3-6 months clothes and is currently in 9-12 month clothes
  • he sleeps through the night completely
  • he has been moved from the bassinet in our bedroom, to the crib in the boys' bedroom
  • he smiles ALL the time
  • he has learned to roll over from his back to his belly
  • he loves to be held and talked to
  • he likes to sleep on his side

We are truly blessed with a wonderful little boy! He continues to be a delight to all who know him and he is a perfect little brother to Rebecca and Jacob. I am looking forward to seeing what the next month brings!