Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Card 2010

Every year since we've been married I've decided to do a Christmas card, and now 4 years and 2 kids later I still haven't done one!

I am naming this year "The Year of the Christmas Card." As if I don't have enough on my plate, and now I want to go ahead and put Christmas cards on my to-do list. Oh well, life won't slow down, so I might as well pick up my pace and keep on top of it.

Shutterfly comes highly recommended by almost everyone I have talked to, so I found myself over on their website the other night playing around with some cards. Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Red Family Wall- Monogrammed? Love that! Plus I love having the option of many different pictures, because who seriously just has one picture they love! I also like the fact that Mike and I could take our own picture and have it on the card, if it proves to be too difficult with all of us!

2) O Holy Night- I am a fan of black and white so it should be no surprise that I went with this one as one of my choices. No matter how hard I try I can't seem to get past the classic that black and white gives.
3) Color me Merry- I am a big fan of the multi-colored card against the black and white picture. What a great idea! Plus, it's a fun card and not serious at all which I love.
4) Red Revamped Christmas card-- I love this because it looks vintage, it's simple, plus it's not your typical 5x7. It's 5x5 which is unique and I love.
So- Which one will we use. I have no idea! We have to try to take a family picture and that will determine. If we can get a good family picture, then we'll plan on just using the one picture. If we can't get a good picture, then we'll have to use the smaller, multiple picture card!

These are just a tiny few of all the really great options on Shutterfly. Seriously get over there and get some Christmas cards ordered!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An uphill battle

Do you ever feel like you can work, and work, and then work some more and still, with all that work, you are barely getting ahead?

I had this slap in the face last week one night. I was in bed, trying to fall asleep, when I started adding up all of the expenses coming up in the next 12 months. Don't ever do this, it is not a good idea!

Needless to say I got up and out of bed because knowing me I would be dreaming about this all night, so I needed a calculator and some paper. Here was my breakdown...

Daycare: $1200 a month x 10 months = $12000
CPA Exam Registration and Fees= $1,000
CPA Exam Review Course $1500-$4000) $2200
Tuition @ School (job will be for credit) $2000

This doesn't include our daycare deposit, the purchase of 2 new carseats, and Christmas shopping.

Here's the deal with the huge daycare bill....I'll be working from January until April 15th, and then studying FULL TIME (yes, 40-50 hours per week) for the CPA exams. I'll start back at the office in October. I have to study this way, I don't have a choice. Each exam suggests you put in 100-120 hours of study time. There are 4 exams, so this will take me all summer. I lie, I do have a choice, I could lose my daycare spot, and stay home with the kids, and then try to study for the exams when I start work back up in October-- after work, all weekend, etc. And people do this, but given the luxury of not having to do this is equivalent of someone asking you if you want a new car...for free...and they'd pay the taxes.

Not joking.

We'll need $17,000, I am sure we will get it, we just won't have much fun with our 2 incomes until I start back up in October. Because we'll be saving every freaking penny!!

I guess we won't be paying off much debt this year and that just sucks. (But I will look on the bright side, we won't have to go into debt for all of this either, so that is great). We'll get those loans down someday, somehow....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Frivilous kitchen gadget I want!!

The Breville electric milk frother- $129.95

"Employing innovative induction heating technology, this frother quickly and precisely heats up to 25 oz of milk to your ideal temperature and froths it into perfect micro-bubbles with a uniformly silken texture. If you like it extra hot or on the cooler side, dial up your preference using the temperature control. Put it to work making rich, creamy hot chocolate, creating airy foam for cappuccinos and steaming milk for lattes. Two removable frothing discs, one for lattes, the other for cappuccinos, allow you to create anything from silky steamed milk to light bubbly foam."*

*Williams & Sonoma catalog

Monday, November 15, 2010

How I'll be spending my summer vacation

The CPA exam has a 75% failure rate for 1st time test takers.

Now, that we have that *encouraging* statistic out of the way, I'll let you know that I'll be taking the exam this summer.

But if I manage to fall in the 25% pass rate, I get a $4000 bonus and a pay hike.

AND that means I won't be putting in 8-10 hour work days, followed by 4 hours of studying. Which really is IMPOSSIBLE when you have a family.

So, we'll be sending the kids to daycare, and I'll be studying the days away.

Trust me, you'll hear more details.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

daycare visit recap.

Oh the things you'll find while visiting daycares. Yep, you'll have to turn your eyes away from somethings because I am finding out quickly that there is a huge difference between "I feel confident this person will do a fine job of caring for my child" and "this person does things exactly like I do" The latter doesn't exist.

Yep, that's what I've found out so far. You will not find someone who does things the exact way you do, and I need to just be okay with that. Which coming from a scheduling control freak such as myself. That is hard.

The first daycare we went to was kind of messy. Lots of crumbs on the floor and counters that needed to be wiped down. Not a life or death thing, but still irritating. I mean this is your job, so sweep the floor after breakfast. The kicker with that first visit was the fact that her husband had 2 kegs on the kitchen counter where he was brewing his own beer. Yeah, I think we'll pass. I mean, use your basement or something. Actually I want them in a place where they don't even keep alcohol in the house because seriously if 8 toddlers/preschoolers won't drive you to drink, I don't know what will.

The second place was so much different. She was on 2 acres, about a mile from Mikes work, and had a big play set outside. The kids LOVED her, you could tell. And one of the mothers came by to drop off some toys and she was super cool, and had been with the gal for 4 years and 2 kids. At this place the kids played outside a ton (which I loved) but I didn't see a bunch of toys inside, which I didn't love. Not that rooms full of toys are necessary, but I was just curious as to what they do when it is really too cold to be outside (or rainy etc.). She however did seem like she genuinely loved what she did, and she had a masters degree in elementary education. And she NEVER has openings, but she has a family who is moving in January, so she could take ours. We set up a second visit for this Tuesday so we can see the house more and talk without kids there.

The third place was also fine. But she still had 3 kids living at home and 'sometimes leaves the kids with the college aged daughter when she has to go to appointments' Not a fan of that. Also she was super structured and very serious. Nice though. Her thing was that she was only open Monday-Thursday, and while we only need 4 days a week, we need Tuesday - Friday.

So, as long as #2 still feels right on Tuesday, we'll probably go with her. She's expensive at $220 per child per week, but also said that since we'll have 2 in daycare, there is no way she'll charge us that much. I am curious to see what she comes back with . We'd really like to stay around or under $1200 a month (which is proving to be nearly impossible....seeing as though location #1 was right around that)!

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The beauy of change.

My mantra is "the best thing about life, is that we have the ability to change it." If we are ever unhappy with where we are in our story, we have the opportunity to change our situation, or at the very least, change our attitude about the situation.

We are "touring" 4 home daycares this week. The reality of it all is sitting right on my doorstep and I am trying to avoid thinking about it.

I know that I have said it before, but I'll say it again. I never planned on being a stay at home mom. I've always pictured myself working...but then you have a baby, and my oh my, many things change.

I have been sooo blessed to be able to stay home with my kids for the past 2.5 years (has it really been that long?), and although we muddle through some days, and some days I am ripping my hair out, or raising my voice one too many times, it has really been great. I am so happy that I have been able to provide a solid, consistent, structure to their lives, and that every morning after they've woken up, I've been there to wake up with them and take our time to start the day. We relax and laugh at breakfast, and take baths at 10 in the morning, we can have a movie date in the middle of the afternoon if we want.

And now all of that consistency, all of that familiarity, is about to change. Dramatic? Well, probably not to anyone else, but it will be to me. Our lives are going to be somewhat turned upside down, and it will take a while to get used to a new normal. To be perfectly honest I am scared out of my mind.

I'm scared of a million things. Scared I'll hate going to work (something I've worked so hard for), scared the kids will get sick all the time, scared I'll have no balance, scared other kids at daycare will be mean to mine, scared we'll constantly have scheduling issues, scared they won't get the attention they need.

And while I know that all of these things are very valid concerns, I also know that they'll be fine. They'll be (hopefully) excited about going, they'll adjust quickly, and they'll make friends. I know this, but I just have to experience it first hand before I can relax.

Life is about to change. Change is hard, change is scary, but I truly believe that change keeps us moving forward, and keeps us reaching for the next level. Change keeps us from becoming stagnant, and that my friends, is a beautiful thing.

So I am hoping that in a few months I can look back on this post and smile. I can take a deep breath and know that everything is working out just as it should. I can look at all the things I was worried about and I can give myself a little laugh and say it wasn't all that bad!

Just remember that the most wonderful thing about life is our ability to change it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

day 3- no sugar

Yes!!! I notice a difference. I think...

Today was one of those looooonnnnggg days when my husband went to work at 6:00 a.m. and didn't get home until 9:00 p.m. To top it off, my morning play date fell through. Boo.

But we rallied.

We went to Mike's work this morning in lieu of our pla ydate. He works at a mall and they have an indoor play area that is always bustling with kids (and germs) but my kids like it. Well today, they had REALLY bad attitudes and were really crabby with each other, and Mike was too busy to talk to us, so that was a bust and we left.

We rallied again.

This time I noticed that when we got home, and I looked at my mess of a house I felt some energy to work at it. Then I made lunch and put Miles down for a nap. Then Lacey and I worked at drawing letters (She has the "L" down pat!), and we did an art project.

Do you see where this is heading? Probably not. You see I am doing all of these things with the kids... taking them out, working on projects, cleaning the house, and I am doing it all without even thinking about it. I haven't even turned on the TV! It's like I have some sort of magical energy (and I know for a fact it is not from coffee because I had less than normal this morning).

I kept on rallying.

Then I took the kids to the Woodlake Nature Center where we "hiked" saw turtles and snakes and all sorts of "wildlife."

We came home and they ate salad.

We watched Toy Story 3 and cuddled on the couch.

They had baths.

I had energy, I never have energy at 7:30 pm after being with the kids

I kind of think it's because I haven't had sugar in 3 days (which I get isn't long, but it has felt like an eternity and it isn't any fun at all).

To be honest, I am hating not eating sugar, but the fact that I could quit anytime is what is making me not quit. Plus, if I start feeling like this we'll see where it goes...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No Sweets November

I eat a lot of crap.

It's not uncommon for me to have a cookie and coffee for breakfast, or some candy or ice cream for lunch. It was really starting to bother me because 1) I know its bad; 2) It was sucking my energy dry; and 3) It was setting a terrible example for my kids.

We decided that we had become to lackadaisical is this department and needed to cut it off cold turkey. So we decided to cut sweets in November (except for Thanksgiving Day), to try to break the habit.

I should point out, that it's not a No-Sugar deal. That's not the goal. The goal is also not to be on any sort of diet. The goal is to make healthier, more well balanced food choices, especially around the holidays when it's very easy to eat a ton of junk.

So what is a sweet? We decided that candy, soda, cake, cookies, and ice cream are out. Those that are not out include muffins, scones, or quick breads (all in moderation), Jamba Juice, and Lattes (not sure where I stand regarding mocha's, but we never get them so it doesn't really apply). Basically we just need to make healthier choices and I can already see it working. We are all snacking on hummus, pita, apples, cheese, peanut butter, and crackers.

It does suck though. All I want to do is inhale SUGAR.

And I have a pounding headache today. I think it's from sugar withdrawal.