Nifty vs. Thrifty

Sunday, February 28, 2010

When preparing your grocery list, focus on what you HAVE instead of what you DON'T have. The best way to save money at the grocery store is to not spend it!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Do we over communicate?

I had a man tell me one time that if I wanted to make my husband happy I should shut up. Boy, was I pissed after that comment. But I went home and thought a lot about it and I think he has a point.

Women like to talk about issues because it makes us feel better (which is sometimes a good thing). But sometimes it isn't. What I try to remember is that I am now including the person I am telling into the situation.

Technology today makes it VERY easy for us to over communicate. I was on my way to my friends house last week. I had never been there before and I was using my GPS to navigate my way. I started getting worried that the GPS was wrong and called my friend (who I was going to visit). She could not figure out where I was and could not help me. I hung up the phone and realized that not only was I frustrated and worried, she is now frustrated and worried about my whereabouts (and not able to help me!). What was my point in calling her? I think I would have been better off trusting my GPS and paying attention to what was going on around me.

What about Facebook? I could write a whole book about this topic! If you are on facebook, I am sure you have feelings about how people communicate via facebook. Basically, my feeling is that people should remember (myself included) that their comments may be being read by 200 or so people. I try to be careful of "gossiping"-it does not make me look good and what I'm saying could get back to the person who you are talking about (even if they aren't on facebook!) Would I stand on a stage in an auditorium and say my comment in front of 200 people? Also, if I am posting a comment that is personal, I may regret it! If I post a comment about my child, I think of how my child may feel down the road if everyone knows their personal business (developmental delay or behavior issues come to mind).

Here's another scenario. Let's say I am having an argument with someone. If I continue to argue or try to prove my point then I am engaging in the debate. Attempting to prove something that may not need to be proven, may look as though I am unsure of my own point. I try to ask myself, do I really need to prove this point or would saying nothing be more productive?

To sum it up, I think we do need to shut up sometimes! Maybe the man who told me this could have put it a little nicer! LOL! However, I try to remind myself that sometimes saying nothing is actually saying something!

Finally, here's a tip to help keep things simple and enjoy the moments....
If you are home with the kids during the day, give your significant other some downtime when he walks in the door at the end of the day. I know it's hard when you have not had adult conversation all day, but it can be very overwhelming to walk in the door and be bombarded with every issue you faced during the day. Even if it's 10 minutes, it may help both of you ease into your evening.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How a good chef is like a mother

A good chef is like a mother
A good chef works quickly and efficiently...
A mother know how to get everything done and make it look easy!
A good chef makes sure the food temperature is accurate...
A mother makes sure the environment is comfortable for her child and if she's cold, she puts a coat on her.
A good chef adds spices to provide flavor without making it too hot or too bland...
A mother provides a fun atmosphere but knows when things are too overstimulating.
A good chef must make the meal slowly and use patience...
A mother waits patiently as her child learns lifes lessons by practicing and making many mistakes.
A good chef has perfect timing and can juggle many things at one time...
just like a mom.
A good chef makes mistakes but knows how to fix it or else start over from scratch and get it done fast...
just like a mom.
A good chef is always behind the scenes but always has a beautiful product, just like a mom.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Balancing money matters

Having a family and juggling finances can be a very difficult task. Groceries, dance lessons, diapers, clothes, babysitters, college fund, and the list goes on and on. When do we save? When do we spend? How do we balance it all? I researched many ideas and all experts agree that although money causes stress to everyone, people of different income brackets can be successful based on how they budget their income. Some financial stress is unavoidable but don't let it get out of hand. Take control of your finances and you will feel balanced in other areas of your life as well. Here's some ideas to help you along.

1. Budget/plan- is a great online resource. It is safe and easy. My husband and I have been using it for several months now and it has really helped us see how we are spending our money (our bank account feeds automatically into this program!)

2. Communication- Although you won't agree on everything, agreeing on short and long term goals for the family will help you move forward in a direction you both want. If you have your OWN checking account separate from the bills, you can use this money on whatever YOU want without having to explain how you spend your fun money. Make sure an agreed upon amount is consistantly going into this account. Don't try to tell yourself you aren't going to spend a dime on yourself. This just isn't realistic and isn't healthy. Everyone deserves a treat now and then-just stay within your means!

2. Keep 3 months of living expenses in the bank - Many experts suggest this amount of savings as a way to keep yourself ahead of the game. If you dip into this savings for an unexpected expense, put a halt on spending until you get back on track.

4. Be honest with yourself! Ask yourself what things are needs, what are wants, what are your priorities (short and long term). You can not move forward unless you are totally honest about what you are doing and what you want! Everyone makes mistakes but learn from them and grow that money tree using some plain old self discipline.

5. Keep it SIMPLE! Don't complicate things-keep it simple and focus on the important items (mortgage, utilities, credit card bills, etc.) Attempt to get income that is consistent. If you have a job that does not give a consistent income, request a flat rate or else pursue a job that does have consistent pay.

When you're tempted to buy yourself a treat that is not in your budget, remember that financial security is the best gift you can give yourself (and your children!) Finding a good sale is great but finding a way to avoid the purchase altogether is even better (especially if you just don't have the money to spend!) Having financial security will give you control and a sense of freedom. If you use self discipline and stop yourself from spending when you really wanted something, give yourself a pat on the back and a smile for a job well done!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A fun way to gt your kids to eat healthier!

Looking for a fun way to get your kids to eat healthier? Well, first of all, you are the one buying the groceries so everything is in your power and your kids will adjust. If they don't like veggies now, their taste buds will adjust and they will begin to like them eventually.
Here's a fun game to help you and your kids along to a healthier lifestyle and also put some fun in the kitchen!
1. Make a list of about 15 fruits, 15 veggies, and 10 whole grains foods. For little kids, print out some pictures or cut some out of magazines (kids can help too).
2. Sit down with the kids and ask them to play this game (you can refer to anything as a game to make it sound fun!) Ask them to make a list of their top 5 foods from each food group.
*If your daring, you can also tell them to make their favorite desserts too.
3. As they are making their list or cutting out pictures, talk to them about how
some of the foods they already eat are made from these foods. For example, hummus is made from chic peas and pizza can be made from wheat crust, tomatoes, and veggies. By the way, if you don't have a pizza stone, you should get one! I use mine every week. I buy wheat dough and it really is delicious! You can put any leftovers from the week on your pizza (taco leftovers, chicken, veggies....get creative!)
4. Take these lists and hang them on the fridge. Never make separate meals for different kids (this will set a bad habit). Get kids excited by saying, "Hey John, tonight is your special night! We are having your favorite veggie! Isn't that cool?"
5. Finally, remember that if you eat a lot of these nutritional foods and enjoy them, they will too! Treats are ok but limit them since they are TREATS (that includes sweet drinks!) Do not underestimate how much you are helping your children by setting a foundation of a healthy lifestyle that they can carry with them throughout their life. You will be helping them to avoid heart problems, high blood pressure, poor self esteem, and many other factors.
4. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

* You can also ask your significant other (or anyone else you cook for) to do this too! You may be surprised at what you found out!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cooking is fun!

Whether you enjoy cooking or not, I challenge you to embrace it! There's absolutely no doubt that cooking is cheaper and healthier than buying fast food or eating out. So, just do it!! Healthy eating is not difficult or may take some practice but it's simple and enjoyable!

I watched an Oprah show recently that talked about how Americans hate spending time and money on their food. We spend the least amount of money on food than any other country! What does that say about our priorities? Why isn't nutrition a priority in this country? Is it a priority in your family? If it is, than we MUST spend time preparing, cooking, and thinking about it! To me, that's easy because I love food! I think MOST people love food but most people have been programmed to think that our food must be deep fried, salted, or dipped in something in order for it to taste good. Fast food preys upon this American mindset and uses many happy faces, a fun environment and even fun boxees to advertise their junk food. McDonalds commercial says "I'm lovin it!" How smart are they? It can be very easy to fall into this mindset. However, we are adults and must not be fooled!!

I beg you! Embrace cooking in your kitchen and you will feel good about how you are nurishing your children and yourself. Enjoy the smells and take a taste every now and then. Play some music and have a glass of wine. Look through family recipe books, look for recipes online, or watch some cooking shows to get you motivated. Enlist the help of your husband or kids to help with clean up so you don't feel overwhelmed.

There are some great cooking shows to get you inspired on the food network and other stations as well. Check out the times they are on or dvr them so you can watch whenever you want (or whenever you can!)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why your child should take martial arts lessons

When I first walked into the martial arts studio in 2001, I wanted to get a good work out! I took a kickboxing class and then started karate. I had NO idea that I would get so much more than six pack abs from my martial arts experience. During my training, I became a different person and began seeing things in a very different way.

Most karate schools require a commitment from the families to support their child through their martial arts training. The training does not end when they walk out the door of the school. Our school required students to submit a form each month based on the "focus of the month". Students had to list ways that they demonstrated actions based on the focus such as kindness, self discipline, respect, and courage and have their parents sign at the bottom. I thought that many children were too young to really understand these ideas. Boy was I wrong! Fortunately, I had the the experience of reading some of these forms and I was AMAZED by the skills these children were learning and applying outside the classroom.

When I was younger, I was quite a "girly girl". I wanted to take dance and music lessons and thought that karate would be aggressive and painful. I did not think it would be fun to punch or kick things (and I definitely did not want to get punched myself!) Boy was I wrong! Although martial arts does teach self defense, a good martial arts school will not allow anyone to get hurt and will not encourage aggressive behaviors toward others. Perhaps I underestimated the importance of learning how to defend yourself by putting yourself in good situations, setting healthy boundaries and using your brain to get yourself out of difficult situations. At belt tests, every parent was so proud and excited about their children's accomplishents. Are you convinced yet? If not, you should be!

Why should your daughter take martial arts? Martial arts is such a great opportunity for girls to learn many of the things that boys are taught throughout their lives. In our culture, many of the sports/activities for boys and men teach confidence, resilience, and discipline. These are characteristics that we all must learn to effectively navigate through life. I began teaching martial arts to children and quickly learned the important, valuable lessons that martial arts has to offer. I saw many girls, in particular, walk into the studio shy and lacking self esteem. After a few months, I could see a visable difference in their confidence. It was so exciting to see them hold their head up and looking others in the eye. It got me thinking, have I been cheated out of these valuable lessons all my life? How would my life be different if I had been taught these lessons earlier in life?

Well, it's pointless to look back and say "what if?" but what I can do is provide my children with this essential experience to allow them to learn the skills that martial arts has to offer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Online playdate-feeling overwhelmed

I feel completely drained. The past week I have been doing everything for everyone else but me. I feel like a machine or a robot and have nothing left to give. How did this happen? I am usually pretty good about asking for help and making sure I get my me time but sometimes time slips away and then I have no energy to even care or think about me. Even if I go out for an hour, it's not going to help because I am totally burned out. Yes, I need more help. I have a list on our fridge of all the things we as a family need to do (my inspection, packing, fixing computer, etc.) but it seems to go unnoticed lately. Now I am avoiding my husband and and just giving him the fake smile but still letting him know I'm not happy. Yeah, I know this isn't the way I should be dealing with it but I am!!! Why can't he just realize what I need help with? I feel all alone.

I guess it's time to address my issues and stop feeling sorry for myself! The truth is that I haven't stepped up and said "I AM GOING TO THE GYM TONIGHT! Find some dinner for yourself." I become resentful when my husband goes to hockey practice but yet I don't assert myself to make sure I get what I need.

I know I'm not alone, how do I balance this juggling act we call motherhood?