Monday, April 13, 2015

MIA / Much On Plate


Wow - I didn't mean to go completely AWOL on this blog gig. I remember having to take a day off to clean the house before my mom got here, then Georgia got sick and it took forever to get in the groove of regular life. Then, then, then...so much.


Seriously. This was my calendar last week. The boxes at the bottom are what I had planned for dinner. Everything else lists places I had to be. Not things to do, but be present, perky and accounted for.

I was asked to be next year's Junior League Secretary! Complete surprise because I loved my placement as Raffle Co-Chair on Sugar Plum Market and was ready to beat the amount we raised last year. And surprising because I usually get asked to do accounting or numbers stuff....and I have no desire to be the treasurer of anything.

This kicked off a series of email inundation and wow. I feel like I have so much to catch up on and learn! And meetings, meetings, meetings. I love meetings and I love buying new dresses for meetings. But shopping + meetings took up a lot of time. And no, shopping isn't listed as a required appointment on my calendar! I just had to work it in.

And then, because I love Sugar Plum Market so much, next year's President asked me to be the Board Liaison. It is super fun getting a behind the scenes look at the year-long planning that goes into a two-day event. I am getting to be involved in every last detail.

And then, I somehow remembered that I was the Chair for the Child Advocates Spring Gala VIP Party. So - on the ball with that. I went last week to see the gorgeous mansion where the VIP Party will be held, and wow. I live in a little suburb of around 90,000. I can't believe that such amazing houses are just a few miles away from our humble abode. The husband was just sitting at their outdoor bar (which rivals that of nicer restaurants) while we led the photographer around for press photos. What a life, huh?!?

Oh yeah, I'm coordinating volunteers from 9-5 the day of the actual Gala. Then running home to change into a formal dress so I can go back and have fun.


This weekend was our annual Spring Fling. I only stayed a couple of hours because I had to go pick up the leftover clothes that didn't sell at an annual consignment sale. Bad planning on my part, but I had to wear my sequins and heels to haul it all out to the car. 

I was a little bummed that I didn't stay around to watch all of the BIG live bidding action. I bid a few hundred dollars on a couple of items on the bid boards. I like to get things kicked off, but I think these items probably went way above my price range. Last year Shaquille O'Neal came and people were bidding thousands for him to sign a basketball. It goes 100% to local charities, but eeeks! A little out of my range. And what would I do with a basketball anyway?

So in the middle of all of this I must have gone crazy. I got a job. Rather, two of them. 

I had been thinking for awhile that I wanted to do something professional, but a bit outside my norm, not in finance. I made a list of requirements and ideas - definitely part time, working from home as much as possible, with a possibility of moving to full time when Georgia is in school full time (after this coming year, where did the time go?!?).

Two opportunities that were just too good to pass up really fell into my lap. I jokingly made a post on Facebook about needing a gig to fund my summer travel and my friend Marianne immediately texted about an Executive Director position in a non profit that she is Vice President of. It really sounds perfect for me and I've already gotten to do a tiny bit of work on it.

The other I can't say a whole lot about. I'll be doing various...things. I know the huge list of possibilities that I could be asked to do, but I have a training call tomorrow to talk about specifics and what I will be starting off on. 

It's all just about 10 hours a week (15 would be a busy week) and I'm extremely excited about conference and Skype calls. Wearing a business shirt and makeup with my PJs. I started setting up my office this week. Mainly moving our desktop up here and buying some pretty office supplies. Because that's what it's all about, right?

It sounds a little overwhelming on paper, but I am the type of person who, the more I have on my plate, the more focused I am on everything going on in my life. I've felt so incredibly lazy since the holidays ended. Until then I was busy with Sugar Plum Market, decorating, shopping and all of the holiday stresses. Now I feel a little aimless. 

I know that having a packed schedule will have me up and out of bed early to focus on work and blogging. Meetings and errands the two mornings Georgia is at school. My time with Georgia will be dedicated and full rather than the somewhat distracted playmate I felt I've been lately. All in all, this is going to be a great change.

I can't wait to share all of the upcoming craziness with you all!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Prayers and God's Love

I am writing today's post with such a heavy heart.

I had drafted an update on us, all happy stuff, and planned on sharing our Easter photos.

Then I posted a Facebook status pertaining to Easter and then felt compelled to share it, instead.

I sat down for a quick glance at Facebook before folding laundry to see my friend Ali asking for everyone who knows her to please pray for her six week old son and to "please pray and don't stop praying".

I said a five second prayer and in those five seconds, she updated that Shepard had just passed away.

I don't know God's reasoning and since I know I never will, I won't even waste time trying to understand this. I only know that He works in strange ways sometimes and there has to be a why for this somewhere out there. I pray that He is using Shepard's tiny little life to somehow work in the lives of others.

As for my Facebook post, for some strange reason, I'm feeling like there is an odd reason why it's almost 4 pm and I hadn't yet written this blog post.

I've known since I was little what Easter is all about. But this year, I FELT it. As Georgia gets older, we only become closer. I cannot IMAGINE how it would feel to give her up, to watch people torture her, to watch her die in agony. There's just no way. I would put myself into danger before I let her, my nieces and nephews, my friends' kids...probably just any kid I saw, get hurt. God did all of that for US. We will never know, we can't know, just how much He gave for us - there's no way I can even fathom it because it's something I couldn't do. He gave his only child, the biggest sacrifice I can think of, for us, people who can never fully appreciate it, so that WE can live in peace forever.

I think of sweet Ali and what she must be going through and feeling right now, less than an hour after her life was turned upside down. I can't even begin to imagine it or put my place in her shoes. But I know that she is a Christian and I know that God will eventually cover her in peace and strength to get through this and hopefully give her an inkling, even a fleeting feeling, of the why. I know she's asking it right now because I am.

If you are a believer, please lift them up to God. Pray that they will just be able to give it all to God.

If you haven't yet experienced God's love, peace and sacrifice, and you are curious, unsure or would like to know more, please email me or get in touch with someone you are comfortable with. I can't answer all questions, but I can share what I know and how God reached out to me to show me that he is REAL.



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Monday, March 16, 2015

A Choose Your Own Adventure Outing

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You've heard of neighborhood pub crawls, right? Well, how about taking your kiddo on a (much kid-friendlier) crawl of their own?

Friday night when David asked Georgia what she wanted to do the next day, of course she said "Get ice cream!" We live within biking distance (walking if you're brave) from both an Old McDonald's (her name for McDonald's) and Dairy Queen. And of course she couldn't decide which she wanted.

It might have been me who yelled "Ice Cream Crawl!" even thought I knew I couldn't go. (I had already committed to a barre class and lunch with my friend Veronika.) The next morning before I left, David had drawn a map and Georgia was already plotting their course. I'm so happy David took pictures so I could follow along their route.


Here she is, ready to ride!


First stop: McDonald's. She had to show some other kids how to get to the cave.


Now it's off to the park to burn off some calories, have a snack, and let her babies get some sun.





To Dairy Queen for a Heath Blizzard - my personal fave - and a re-route.

 




Bahama Bucks just opened last week and I haven't been. It was apparently a really big deal that one opened, so it must be good.

 

They stopped on the way home to fly a kite. I just love this picture!



And this was about 7:30. She was OUT for the rest of the night....even though her calories for the day consisted 100% of sugar and milk.

I'm trying to think of my own crawl for next weekend. Maybe nachos or queso?

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Fave Finds Friday

ABC Mouse App

ABC Mouse is getting a post all of its own soon. We just love it that much. I don't let Georgia have a lot of screen time, but I'm A-OK with letting her play on this more than she should. Without going into too many details, it has little learning activities and games in all subjects, and kids progress through them on their own "learning path". If you have a little age 2-ish through kindergarten, definitely try their 30 day trial.

A Discount Every Time I Visit Starbucks


Someone thought it would be really nice for me to have my very own permanent Starbucks cup ($6), and it is! The first time I brought it with me, the barista told me I get ten cents off every time I use it. It doesn't sound like much, but if you grab a misto as often as I do, it adds up fast!

Naked 2 Palette

I know I'm three years late to the party on this one, but I only recently got interested in eyeshadow. Naked 2 has pretty much every shade I've needed for the past six months. I do a thick line of Half Baked when running out the door in the morning, and there are plenty of shades left over for me to experiment with. I have the Naked Flushed blush/bronzer/highlighter set on its way to me and I have high expectations for it.

Super Cheap Hunter Wellies
I got some bright pink Wellies for Christmas and Santa was lucky enough to get a great deal on them. The elves compared sizing charts and figured out that my size 7.5 foot could wear size 5 in kids. They're half the price of adult sizes! I like them better because they're not as heavy and are a couple inches shorter. They are still really roomy on my calves but if you have wide calves this option might not work for you.

Julep Ali



Even though our weather is nowhere near spring, I've had Ali on my toes for awhile. It makes me think of clouds and the beach, and makes it that much harder to wait for summer!

Linking up with Friday Favorites / Five on Friday / Life in Leggings



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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Easter Dresses Under $50 - For You!

When I woke up to an email from The Limited with a code for 50% off most of their spring dresses, I sent Georgia off with a handful of crayons and a stack of construction paper and told her mama has work to do!

Ever since buying Georgia this beautiful dress to wear on Easter, I've been on the lookout for something coordinating that I can wear, and there were plenty of picks for me.

I bought the first two dresses above, for less than $50 each. In fact, all of my favorites shown above are less than $50 when you use the code ONEDAY. It's good for 50% off all their new spring arrivals.

Most of the dresses I wear to church are from Limited. They are amazing quality for the price (and I always wait for a code to buy) and their fit is very consistent. I also use ShopRunner for free shipping. I think it's a paid service, but I get it for free through our AMEX card. And don't forget to use eBates for 3% back!

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Talk Nauti To Me


Sunny Scarf $10 / Necklace $13 / Bikini Bag $12 / Charm Necklace $15 
Tank $25 / Necklace $13 / Notebook $13 / Hair Ties $5 /
Desk Box $22 / Rope Scarf $10 / Necklace $13 / Hat $20
Hair Ties $5 / Wine Glass $9 / Suede Headband $8 / Orange Top $35

We've already established that I love everything nautical. Give me stripes, blue, rope, coral and anchors with a touch of gold and I'm in heaven.

I popped in Charming Charlie yesterday and hit the jackpot for my spring and summer accessories. I bought the charm necklace because there was only one left, and I'm heading back to make a real haul when my monthly coupon comes in the mail. You can't beat the price of those hair ties unless you make them yourself.

They had so many cute nautical napkins and paper supplies....I might just have to host a little get-together to welcome the warmer weather!


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Thursday, March 5, 2015

How You Need A Budget Works & How To Get Started

Please note this is not our budget. It is a screen shot from the YNAB website.

If someone had told me a year ago that I needed a budget or that setting one up would have helped me, I would have laughed off that idea. In fact, my husband did try to make me analyze our spending every month and I brushed it off. 

We have various savings and investments for retirement, college, emergencies, and all sorts of fun. We don't have non-mortgage debt and we don't spend more than we make. We both feel pretty secure financially and that we don't have much to worry about.

Why in the world would we need a budget? Budgets are for people paying down debt and learning to live within their means, right?

I finally caved, if only to show David how pointless a budget is. But guess what? Now I can go in Target and leave only exactly what I came in for. You don't hear many women say that, do you?

Now that the Target miracle has your attention, I'd like to show you what we use and how it works.

I decided to try You Need A Budget (YNAB for short) because it's very user friendly and you can use it on phones and iPads when you're on the go. Your data is also kept in your Dropbox account and on your desktop/app instead of their system. The only downside is that you manually enter transactions instead of the software pulling them from your bank and credit cards - but that's actually safer in the end, so I don't mind sitting down once a week to do it.

The first step is setting up a budget. I used most of their given categories shown above and entered things like Georgia's ballet/cheer, dog grooming, and things I'd like to save for, like a new living room rug.

After inputting your account balances and income, you simply allocate your money to the different expense categories. YNAB will tell you when you've spent too much imaginary money by having you move it between categories until you are 100% within your income. 

Each time you enter your spending (sometimes I enter our receipts individually, but usually I just do one upload for the whole week) and assign each transaction a category, you can see how much you have left for the month. Easy peasy, right?

There are times ahem when I spend more than I've allocated for my personal spending. That's when I "steal" some from the dogs and just don't have as much to spend on myself next month. YNAB makes you make up for overspending in the future months. 

I also let the "home decor" balance roll forward each month until I have enough for what I want to buy. And when our electricity, grocery, or other category spending is under budget for the month, I either move that to savings or dining or let it roll forward to balance a higher spending month.

How it has helped me
I walk in Target for a couple of things, get distracted by something cute or useful, then have to think - do I want to save for that rug or have an extra dinner out, or do I really need this Nate Berkus picture frame? 

Do we want to grab Chick Fil A for a couple drive through lunches, or would I rather us all go out for Brooklyn Pizza this weekend? Do I want a milkshake or will a little bowl of ice cream at home do?

I'm much more conscious of what I pick up on a whim, which has helped us accumulate much less junk.

When we decided, on a Wednesday, to fly to Colorado that Friday night to celebrate Halloween with friends, we were able to decide, as a family, to do without some other fun stuff and shopping the next month in order to avoid dipping into our vacation savings to cover it. (We found a super bargain on last minute flights, which made that possible.)

The YNAB website has all kinds of video tutorials on using the software as well as getting you started on a budget, if you've never made one. And you can definitely email me if you have a quick question or need a sounding board.

You can try it for free for 30 days to see how you like it, and I bet you will! Use this link to sign up - if you end up buying a YNAB account, you will get $6 off. Your payment is a one time fee, a really good deal.

Do you have any favorite budgeting or spending tips?


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