Saturday, May 23, 2009


There is a lot of buzz in the blogging air right now about prioritizing and that general feeling of being overwhelmed that seems to be the thing that most mothers have in common. I read Michelle’s post over at Leaving Excess and it got me thinking about my own situation.

I'll be honest, I don't get completely overwhelmed too often. I get stressed at times, but that seems to be a situational thing as opposed to a constant feeling. I have my days, especially when my daughter is being a terror, but in general, I try to relax and go with the flow. My house is not in perfect shape. I have dust on the top of my TV. On any given day, I probably have dishes in my sink. But to me, this doesn't matter.

Would I like to have a perfectly cleaned and decorated house? Sure, but not for me. For me, as long as the house is clean enough to live in and doesn't stink, I'm good. I don’t care about having a perfect house, so if I strived for it, the only people that would really care are my visitors. And I don’t keep my home for them. I keep my home for me and family.

I only do what is important to me. I love to cook, so my pantry is super organized. My linen closet? Not so much. I am a writer and spend time everyday at my desk, so it is clean as a whistle. Is my living room dusted? No. My daughter and I play with her toys everyday, so I’ve been through them often to sort out what toys she has outgrown so I can donate or sell them. Her clothing on the other hand... I pulled out a t-shirt this morning that was about two sizes too small for her.

Prioritizing helps me keep my sanity. Being the mom to a toddler is stressful enough. I don't need to be the perfect housekeeper, the perfect gardener, the perfect blogger. It is important to me to spend quality time with my baby. It is important to me to have a good relationship with my husband. It is important that I cook healthy. delicious meals. It is important that my house is clean enough so that I don't have to worry when Aly wanders around. It is important that I save money so that we can afford for me to stay home with the baby.

Everything else that isn't a priority can be done when I have the extra time. AFTER the priorities are met. AFTER my family is cared for and loved. AFTER I relax and take care of myself. There are some things that will likely never be done. That linen closet is probably always going to be unorganized. And I am okay with that.

I recently went to have a makeover done with my friend and the lady doing my make-up also has a little girl about a year older than my daughter. She made a comment that for having a toddler, I looked really good. No dark circles under the eyes. My skin looked pretty good. And it really made me think about my life and why I generally don’t feel stressed.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve been sick for the better part of ten years. I have an auto-immune disease that essentially means that I have less energy on any given day than other people my age. I think I definitely tend towards being a Type A personality, but I’ve had to modify that and slow down in life. I don’t have any other choice. I can remember exhausting myself in my early 20’s because I still wanted to do it all and just never had the energy to get it all done. Then I read the Spoon Theory. Talk about an eye-opening experience. It completely changed the way I view and live my life.

I don’t always get the same amount of spoons everyday. Some days are really good and I can get alot done and still do everything that makes me happy at the same time. The next time one of those days come, I’m going to tackle my daughter’s dresser and get that reorganized. On the bad days, I have just enough spoons to do the basics and even that is a struggle. When you live life knowing that you only have so much energy, you do have to drastically prioritize.

The big question I ask myself about anything is: Is anybody going to care about this when I’m dead? Is anyone going to care if I cooked my family healthy meals when I’m dead? Yes, because some of our strongest memories center around food. Is anybody going to care that my living room was dusted when I’m dead? I don’t know if people will even remember what it looked like, much less if it was dusted. Is anyone going to care if my roots were showing for two weeks when I’m dead? No.

I recently thought about taking up photography as a hobby. It is something that has always interested me and now, with a small child, I really want to create beautiful pictures of her. So, I asked myself if anyone would care about me taking pretty pictures when I’m dead? I decided that if I had some nice portraits of my child for her when she gets older, that might be important. I have pictures in my home of great-grand parents that I’ve never even met. So, I spend some of my precious spoons per week dedicated to studying and practicing photography.

I’ll admit that my approach won’t work for everyone. I only have one toddler and a small house, both by choice because I know my limits. People with bigger families and bigger homes might have more of the “basic” stuff to do than I do. But I think keeping life simple and not living up to the expectations of others is a valuable thing, whether you are healthy or sick, rich or poor, young or old. The real question is: When you are dead, would you rather your kids remember all the stuff you did or remember the way that you made them feel?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday

Dear Aly,

One year ago today, I saw the love of my life for the first time. You were smaller and skinnier than I expected, but you were born with your eyes wide open. You were not red and screaming like most babies I have seen. There was one pitiful little cry from you when you first came out, but the baby they placed on my belly was wide-eyed and alert. And quiet. Even brand new, you were busy investigating your new world. You hardly cried at all that first night. I think we were both exhausted. Being born/giving birth is hard work.

Since then, I have had the privilege of getting to watch you explore the world around you. Sometimes, it is frustrating, like when you turn my computer off, especially when I am writing. Sometimes, it is hilarious, like watching you on your daily scavenger hunt around the house. The other day, you brought a Guadalupe prayer candle and a spaghetti fork to me. Before that it was a romance novel and a can of baking powder. Today is was bingo dobbers and a measuring cup. I still have no idea how you find them. And yet other days, it is amazing to watch you discover the world around you, like watching you touch grass for the first time and seeing your initial cautiousness melt away to joy at what you had found. And you wasted no time in plucking a handful to come show me.

At one year old, you love bubbles and sweet potatoes and baths and yogurt and a stuffed monkey you named Babe. You love your dad and you love pushing buttons, both literal and figurative. You sleep between us at night, with your little fingers firmly entrenched in your mouth and your head resting on my arm. You usually wake me up by touching my face, my arm, my hair. Little fingers always exploring, exploring. Sometimes, you stop in the middle of playing and just stare at your hands, as if you are awed by what they can do now.

You babble constantly and say Mama, Dada, Nana, and Babe. You have long conversations with the stuffed monkey, me, your stuffed sheep, the cars outside the window, your hands, and sippy cups. You love looking outside and will stand at the window for long periods of time, just observing the world. We call you our little professor, because you study everything you come across and have an almost methodical approach to that study.

But that is where you studious nature ends. You, my child, were born with a incredible temper. Watching you in the middle of a tantrum never fails to make me laugh, though I imagine that this will be less amusing as you get older. You are strong willed and I often spend my time trying to out-stubborn you. You now know the meaning of the word “no” and have come to realize how much you hate that word. You have a huge personality for such a tiny thing and it never fails to surprise me and most everyone else.

Getting to be your mother, getting to hold you and kiss you and love you has been one of the defining moments of my life. You will never know how many wounds you have healed just by being here. When I look into your eyes, I no longer feel inadequate or unlovable. I know our relationship will not always be this easy, but I cherish how uncomplicated and joyous it is now.

Happy Birthday, my Aly Kitten.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Busy body.

I actually feel like I accomplished something today. I managed to clean my wreck of a kitchen. It is amazing to me how dirty it can get in just a couple days. Ah, the joy of having a small kitchen. NOT. It was so clean it GLEAMED. I even mopped the floor. I hate mopping the floor. But I did it.

So what do I go and do once it is clean?

Mess it up all over again.

But, the mess is still manageable. I think I could make the kitchen gleam again with a half hour's work. To show for my sinkful of dirty dishes and cluttered counters, I have two dozen homemade brownie bites (actually, make that 23. The Kid-Kid and I shared one.), a loaf of homemade bread getting ready to go into the oven, a bag of shredded carrot for carrot cupcakes this weekend, a bag of diced carrot and diced celery for homemade chicken noodle soup this weekend, and a bag of celery sticks for a snack tomorrow.

And if I am feeling ambitious tomorrow after doing the laundry and cleaning the bathroom, I am thinking of making a couple of jars of homemade baby food (avocado and sweet potatoes, I think) and this savory muffin with feta cheese and basil that I found in parade magazine a couple weeks ago and I have been DYING to try.

Oh, and to make my accomplishments even bigger today, I managed to pull all of that even in the midst of two massive temper tantrums on the Kid-Kid's part. (I will take the blame for one of them because I waited a little bit too long to make lunch.)

No one ever warned me that the terrible twos start at 11 months old.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Maybe a rant.

My financial situation at the moment is not fun. I lost my job a couple of months ago because, in this economy, people just aren’t interested in paying several hundred dollars for senior portraits for their children. So, we began to economize in earnest. We had a little bit of savings to pad out our budget and my boyfriend is still working, so we’ve been managing. It’s tight some weeks, it really is. But we are current on our rent, my baby is always fed, my car has gas, and no utilities have been even been in danger of being shut off yet. I’ve been looking for a new job, but there aren’t a lot of opportunities in this area for me.

I work very hard at not coveting what other bloggers have and are doing. Very hard. I know when I saw several bloggers participating in a No Spend Month, I had to bitterly chuckle just a little. I really am happy for people who have the luxury of being able to do such things as an experiment. For me, this is my life. I cheered those people on, of course, because being able to abruptly curtail extraneous spending is a useful skill. And sometimes I think Americans as a whole forget the little luxuries that we indulge in everyday. I wasn’t really aware of that until our second income was gone and I was left to mercilessly cut our monthly budget to fit the income we had remaining. The only “luxury” I really feel we have left at this point in our internet and there have been times where I wondered if it was worth it.

Regardless, this post isn’t meant to be a sob story. Just a reaction I have seen to various things lately regarding the economy. It started with my best friend’s parents, who are lovely people. Really. But they are also staunch conservatives that fall right within the income range that Obama is proposing carry the burden of financing his economic programs. They aren’t happy about it and have made a number of comments to the effect that it is a bad idea. I always have to bite my tongue because in reality, I want to yell that the person Obama is trying to help is ME. I don’t want a hand out, but we do need help because the day is going to come where, eventually, we aren’t going to be able to meet that insurance payment or the rent or whatever. It terrifies me everyday.

Then, in the course of watching various news programs, I see a number of governors speaking out against the state bailout package, particularly the unemployment portion of the package. I understand that this sort of spending flies in the face of Republican “ideology”, though I wonder where that “ideology” was when they agreed to give George Bush TRILLIONS of dollars for his war. I have to say that hearing these governors, especially Bobby Jindal, talk about how they’re going to turn down money that would go to the most vulnerable people in their states boils my blood and sends me into a rage. To these governors, poverty is just a statistic. They aren’t the ones that had to go hat in hand to request state health care for their kids because they lost their job and don’t have insurance for them anymore. They aren’t the ones that pray every night that their car doesn’t break down because they don’t have the money to repair it if anything major goes wrong. They aren’t the ones that desperately apply for jobs they are over-qualified for just because they need a paycheck THAT bad.

It kills me how unempathetic most Americans can be. Most of us that have lost our jobs don’t want a hand out. We aren’t asking the government to take care of us. We just want a job! We just want the security that comes from knowing that our family is cared for! There is a very real human face to this economic crisis and it isn’t the corporate CEOs that put us in this mess. It’s me. It’s your neighbors. It’s the friend that doesn’t talk about how bad they have it right now because they are ashamed.

So, when I see bloggers (several in fact) talk about how this is “all our fault for overspending and using credit”, it infuriates me. Does our economy have to change? Absolutely. Is bailing out the banks and auto makers going to help? I’m not sure, but my gut tells me that it isn’t going to work as well as our lawmakers hope. Is the price tag on the bailout packages staggering? Indeed and it makes me uneasy that my grandkids might be paying for all of this. But, before you decry these programs and dismiss the fact that the stupid actions of a few are killing our economy, remember that those “repercussions” have a face and a life. It’s just rude to dismiss the fact that so many of us really are living the frugal lifestyle so many of us bloggers espouse, not out of desire but out of pure, desperate necessity.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Monday - Chili with corn chips
Tuesday - Chicken, Black Beans, and Rice Casserole
Wednesday - Biscuits and Gravy w/ fruit
Thursday - Baked Chicken, Stuffing, Veggies
Friday - Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with steamed veggies
Saturday - Meatloaf, Potatoes, Veggies
Sunday - Chicken, Veggies, and Couscous

Bread Pudding
Muffins x 12
Bread x 4

Meal-planning is going better than I thought it would. I managed to cook dinner at home six days last week and the seventh day, we just fended for ourselves.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Monday: Beef Strips, Veggies, Couscous

Tuesday: Crab Cakes, Fresh Bread, Corn on the Cob

Wednesday: Crock Pot Roast and Bread

Thursday: Chicken Panini with Basil Pesto

Friday: Homemade Sausage Pizza

Saturday: Pork Chops, Potatoes, Peas

Sunday: Fend for Yourself Night

CVS 2/22 - 2/28

This didn't work so well. I didn't get any ECB from the razor and the total was more than I thought it would be. I need to call tomorrow to find out why I didn't get my ECB for the razor...

Transaction #1:
Gillette Gamer Razor
- $4 coupon
No ECB earned. :(
Beef Boullion Seasoning
Sunday Paper
Paid with 4 ECB
Total: $2.54 OOP (76% savings)

CVS 2/15 - 2/21

I'm still learning to CVS. I needed fillers on my second transaction and didn't have any planned, so I grabbed candy. Next time, I'm going to try to plan some out ahead of time. I don't need more candy! LOL

Transaction #1:
2 Herbal Essence Shampoo and Conditioner
- $3/2 coupon
Earn 2 ECB
2 Colgate Advance Whitening
Earn 5.98 ECB
1 Lysol Neutra Air Kit
- $5 coupon
Total: $11.21 OOP (42% savings)
ECB Earned: 7.98

Transaction #2:
1 Gillette Fusion Gamer Razor
- $4 coupon
Earn 4 ECB
SweetTarts Valentine Candy
%50 off clearance
Used 7.98 ECB
Total: .33 OOP (97% savings)
ECB Earned: 4

Weekend Shopping (Marsh, Meijer, K-Mart)

Spent: 19.73
Saved: 28.27 or 59%

Spent: 4.07
Saved: 5.39 or 57%

Spent: $.44
Saved: $20.43 or 98%!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shopping on Sunday 2/8

I spent a bit more than usual, but I also picked up a couple treats that we don't normally get to have. We had a tiny bit of cash left over after paying bills and so I figured we would splurge just a tiny bit. No pics as I can't find my camera.

I had to go to two different stores because the first didn't have everything that I wanted to buy.

Transaction #1:
10lb bag of potatoes
2 lb sweet potatoes
thin spaghetti
Total: 5.34
Saved: 3.62 or 40%

Transaction #2:
6 Yoplait yougurt cups -
2 grated parmesan -
4 Shamrock chocolate milks
Swiffer wet cloths
Bulk basil
1/2 gallon of milk
Total = 16.98
Saved = 9.89 or 37%


2 pesto
2 Campbell Chunky Fully Loaded soup
Velveeta cheese
2 6 pack Diet Sunkist
Toilet paper
3 Pringles
2 frozen soft pretzels
3 cheese blocks
Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites
Chex Mix
Betty Crocker Warm Delights
Ricotta Cheese
Kashi Bars
Toaster Streudel
2 Progresso Soup
Total = 48.46
Saved = 32.03 or 40%

Not a bad week. I probably would have done better at Meijer had it not been for the little extras.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Everything I’ve read and researched has said that menu planning is absolutely vital to maintaining a frugal lifestyle, so I’m going to try to be a little more diligent about trying to plan ahead what we eat for most days of the week. This is quite different from my usual method of vaguely thinking about some things that I might like to make for dinner early in the week and then just winging it for the rest of the week. This inevitably leads to me standing in front of a pantry STUFFED with food and plaintively howling to my hubby, “But, baaaabe, we don’t have ANYthing to coooook!”

So, here goes.

Monday - Pesto, Pepperoni, and Mozzarella Panini
Tuesday - Crockpot Beef Stew
Wednesday - Chicken, Steamed Veggies, and Couscous
Thursday - Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Homemade Bread
Friday - French Toast and Fruit
Saturday - Potato Soup with Leeks

First Post

Welcome to my blog! My name is Crista and I am THAT mom. You know, the one whose kid is wearing galoshes, a superman t-shirt, and a sparkly pink tiara. The one that can cook you a gourmet meal, but can barely balance her checkbook. The one that comes to your dinner party in a little black dress... and plaid sneakers. The one who teaches her baby how to walk by using the family dog as an example... and then wonders why her toddler will only communicate in growls.

I’m pretty well relaxed and like to take it easy. I’m here to share my passions which include cooking, couponing, and of course my adorable 9 month old, Aly. I figure this blog will just be a hodge-podge of various things. Because the only thing I hate more than doing dishes is having to color inside the lines!