Monday, November 30, 2009

Let's bust out the dayplanner and schedule time to watch Grey's Anatomy, shall we?

One of the things I did while I was on my recent blogging hiatus was to start talking to a counselor.

Last week we talked about what it is that triggers my anxiety and depression, and what I can do for myself to try and prevent things from getting overwhelming, and from getting to the point where I feel like I am just going to friggin' snap.

I'm going to tell you a bit about what I learned because I having a sinking suspicion that as women and/or mothers, we all struggle with this - at least to some degree.

Here's what I learned:

I put WAY too much pressure on myself. For everything. I seem to have this all or nothing attitude, and it's high time for me to knock that crap off.

I continue to struggle with mommy guilt. If I spend too much time getting stuff done, I feel guilty for not playing more with Kaylee. If I spend all my time playing with Kaylee, I feel guilty for not doing more around the house.

Guilt, guilt, guilt. It's gotta go. It's not going to be easy, as it seems to be a theme that is ingrained in my head, but I'm working on it...

My counselor had me list all the things that pile up and and stress me out, and then he drew a picture of a person with this big boulder on their shoulders, and he sectioned off the boulder into all the different roles and responsibilities I have.

Work. Housework. Meal planning. Budgeting. Chasing a toddler around all day. Paying bills. Scheduling our family. Being a wife. Being a mom. Having a social life. And on and on. I'm sure the list is very similar to what many of you would put on your lists.

After he was done drawing, he looked at me and said, "Well? Anything else? That's a lot of stuff right there. That's a lot of pressure."

I couldn't think of anything else, and he said, "Uh, what about self-care?"

Ahhhh, yes. That funny little thing called self-care. That concept I'd slowly grown to eliminate from my mind.

The board was filled up with all his little scribbles describing all my stresses and worries. And as soon as he put self-care up there, he erased everything else.

He said, "How about you just focus on one thing at a time?"

So, I'm slowly but surely working on eliminating this kind of thinking...

"But...I've got 5 loads of laundry and a sink full of dishes. I've got to get to the store because we've been out of milk for 3 days. But...I can't go to the store. I've gotta balance the checkbook and pay the bills. What? Is that a poopy diaper I smell? Ughhhh....Why can't I just get it together and do what needs to be done around here!?!?"

One thing that's been great for me about talking to a counselor is getting to the root of things. After just short while, he pointed out to me that I have an awful lot of "have to's and should's" in my vocabulary, and he said that I need to lower my expectations of myself.

WHAT? Are we both speaking English here? How can I lower my expectations when I can't even get done what needs to be done???? You are a crazy, crazy man!

But, he's right. He reminded me I need to be realistic.

Sure, there's a lot that needs to be done. But, is it really necessary to balance the checkbook 2 times a week? Do I really have to do 4 loads of laundry in one day? What's going to happen if I don't?

Nothing. Nothing is going to happen. The world will go on.

So, the game plan is that I schedule my week, and that I consciously make the choice to have time for ME.

As far as the scheduling things goes, rather than have a huge, looming list of things to be done hanging over my overwhelmed and frazzled little mind, I'm breaking it down.

I'll set a couple goals for the day. Today? Today I accomplished everything on my to-do list by 1 p.m.

Kaylee and I went to exercise class.
I called 2 places to make payments for Kaylee's mountain of medical bills.
I did a load of laundry.
I paid one bill online.
I spent time blogging.

My aim is to have one outing a day with Kaylee, whether it's to the store or to park - just something to get us both out of this house.

Next, I will choose one or two things to accomplish around here, but they will be small, realistic, reachable goals. No more page long lists of things to do in one day, only to reach the end of my day and feel that I accomplished nothing.

As far as the self-care aspect goes, I had to make an effort to schedule that as well. Dennis has karate Monday nights, so my parents agreed to watch Kaylee after work that day so I can have a night just for myself. I can go to the gym, go out with a friend, sit around in my pj's and watch TV all night - whatever I want - it's my night. And, I've designated the hour between 9 and 10 every night for reading, and then hitting the hay no later than 10 so that I get enough rest.

Now? Now I will go watch Grey's Anatomy because I haven't done anything JUST FOR ME today, and that whole self-care concept? Leaving it out of my day is just not an option any more, and I am not going to feel guilty anymore for taking care of myself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A little time away.

It's been about a week and a half since my last post, and since then, there have been lots of things I've wanted to write about, but just didn't.

Anxiety. Self-care. Changing habits and changing perspectives. Realizations.

I've had a lot of things to think about and to straighten out, and in order to accomplish that, I needed some time away. Time to really focus on stuff without distractions. I've also been offered some extra shifts at work these past two weeks, which has made life a bit crazier, but it's also lifted a good deal of financial stress for the time being.

I have so missed writing, and I've missed reading blogs and keeping up with what is going on with all of you out there.

But, it was a much-needed hiatus.

Now, of course, we're coming upon Thanksgiving (I'm drooling just thinking about all the deliciousness that awaits me tomorrow as we'll be having two Thanksgiving feasts, neither of which I will have to cook!) I'm excited to relax, eat, and be with my family - especially my brother, who just got home from college last night.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I'll be back to regular posts soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tweetin' for a good cause

Those of us involved in the world of Twitter love it because we can talk about silly little things like how we spent 2 hours watching Grey's Anatomy episodes and ate massive amounts of chocolate instead of doing the laundry or balancing the checkbook. And people care. They actually have conversations with you about things like that.

It's a fun and easy way to connect with people. We all know about the other fun things Twitter has to offer, like the fact that you can follow celebrities or the fact that you can find out about fun giveaways or online coupon codes. It's more than just a site that allows you to announce to the world that you are about to eat a peanut butter sandwich or that you've got some mad indigestion after the chimichanga you snarfed down at lunchtime.

One thing I LOVE about Twitter is that it's such a social media phenomenon right now that people are realizing we can use it for good. We can spread the word about important causes, and we can make a difference.

Today I found out about one of these great causes, and I hope you'll join me in supporting it, because all you have to do is tweet.

Simple. No money. No time (ok, 5 seconds of your time). Just a simple tweet.

Here's the deal.

There's a little kiddo named Jacob (he's 4) who was born with a life-threatening disease called Atresia, and the Make-a-Wish Foundation and LeapFish have teamed up to grant Jacob's wish of going to Disneyland with his family. The cool part is, they're using Twitter to raise the money.

LeapFish is donating 5 cents - until they reach $10,000 - every time someone tweets this:

Just tweeted 2 grant a childs wish, #leapfish donates to #makeawish foundation for each tweet RT pls Please retweet!

How stinking cool is that?!

It's so easy, and it will add up quickly. Head on over to Twitter and send this quick tweet so we can help get this cutie pie to Disneyland okay? Okay. Just copy and paste the tweet in bold above, tweet, and you're good to go.

And click this: tweet-a-cause to see a picture of this little dude. Oh, my goodness - he is absolutely adorable.

In a time where we can't all just whip out the checkbook to donate money, all we've got to do to help this little guy is to send a tweet, and LeapFish provides the moolah. Who says you can't help charities when you're broke?


About LeapFish
LeapFish is an evolved search engine that captures the traditional, multi-media and real-time Web, through a single, connected search platform for both searching and sharing content. Founded by Ben Behrouzi (co-founder of, LeapFish is a privately held, 100-person corporation headquartered out of CARR America Corporate Center in Pleasanton, California. For more information, visit

About Make-A-Wish
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants magical wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich their lives with hope, strength and joy. For more information, visit


Friday, November 13, 2009

The impermeable wall has busted and crumbled.

By impermeable wall, I mean - my immune system. My rock solid, only-gets-a-cold-once-a-year immune system has somehow been compromised, and I'm rather irritated about the situation.

Dennis usually gets sick a few times a year. Especially right about now, being that he works in the germ infested land known as an elementary school. Shoot, I work in a hospital for crying outloud - you'd think I'd get sick, but I rarely ever do.

I was such a good little lady...getting in line for my seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccinations, yadda yadda yadda and then KABAM.

Frickin' fever of 102 hits me like a Mack truck Wednesday. Then the body aches and sore throat.

Fever's been gone since Wednesday afternoon, but the sore throat persists. Dang swab for strep throat came back negative, so it looks like I'm just gonna have to wait this one out, just like all the other people who get sick every year.

Along with my fabulous sore throat, I've had killer headaches on and off, which makes the whole concept of writing coherent blog posts a rather undesirable activity.

So, whatever. Hopefully it will go away soon. Pshhhhh - stupid frickin' sickness.

And is it just me, or does anyone else think of that hilarious SNL skit with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walkin whenever you hear the word "fever"? You know...Christopher Walkin... "I've got a feva, and the only more cowbell!"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordful Wednesday - Dragon Smiles

Even though you can't see her whole dragon ensemble in this picture, it's hands-down my favorite picture from Halloween. You don't see the floppy hands and feet or the shiny iridescent wings or - my favorite - the way the tail wiggled back and forth when she walked.

But this is the smile.

The smile that makes my bad days seem not so bad. The smile she busts out right after doing something bad. The smile that makes me less mad when she does something she knows she shouldn't. The smile that precedes belly laughs (from her and us).

The smile that says, "This is me. This is who I am. I'm a kid filled with joy and spunk and utter delight."

I love you, my little Kaylee Bug.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ugly Mommy Moments

We all have them, don't we?

Today I let myself stay in a funk. I shouldn't have. But, I did.

I was halfway to work and I got a call from my boss stating there were hardly any patients at the hospital, so I didn't need to come in. Second time this pay period. OUCH.

I came home. I cleaned for an hour and a half straight. Hey, being mad has it's advantages, and for me - it often means something gets cleaned.

We'd already paid the babysitter for the 2 days she is scheduled to have Kaylee this week, so I figured I'd just get some stuff done. I spent the day cleaning, working on bills, working and re-working the budget, trying to make the numbers look prettier than they are, and found some stuff to sell and put it on Craigslist.

I packed up some clothes Kaylee's outgrown, as well as some other baby paraphernalia, and I had grand plans to haul it off to the resale store and take what they didn't want to Goodwill. Then...I was going to go to the library (because I cruised through A Girl Named Zippy in less than a week and read The Time Traveler's Wife in 2 days) and get some new books.

But...I realized I left my wallet in the diaper bag. The diaper bag that was with Kaylee. At the babysitter's. And I decided it would be best if I didn't drive without my license.

And I let the funk creep into my day. I hate it when I do that, but by the time Dennis got home, I was on the verge of tears, until I finally let some fall and I just told Dennis how stressed I was.

I feel crappy that I keep getting called off work. I hate that money is so tight. I hate having to worry.

So, I cried and vented for a short while, and then I went to the library, where I picked out 4 new books.

I hurried back home so Dennis could leave in time for karate, and then I listened to Kaylee have a toddler breakdown when he left. Which she tends to do. Pretty much every time he leaves.

Really - I swear I'm fun to be around, but she's such a Daddy's girl, and I've come to accept that. Sometimes she'd rather cry that he's gone than just calm down and have fun with me.

So, I'm still feeling a bit funky and between her screams, tears, and pleas for Dada and EWMO- PEAAAAS?!?! I had zero patience.

I was so frustrated with her. I was upset that she couldn't just get over the fact that Dennis was gone. He would be back, but I hadn't seen her all day. Come on, child! Have some fun with your mother already, would you?!

She wouldn't eat her dinner. She was mad when Elmo (yes, I finally caved and put on Elmo) wasn't on the screen. She was all done, all done, all done, all done with her dinner, but she'd hardly touched it.

So, I let her be. I let her sit in her chair, and I didn't watch her. She ate a few bites. I layed down on the couch and I said a quick prayer. Just asking for a little help. Apologizing for being such a cranky, whiny mommy to my adorable little girl who still can't quite communicate so I understand what she wants and needs all the time. For taking out my frustrations on her by not being patient.

And I asked for help tomorrow. Because tomorrow is fresh and new, and it's a clean slate. Ugly Mommy may have reared her head today, but it doesn't mean she has to tomorrow.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let's just go ahead and start things off with some cake down the dress.

Hands down, the funniest thing that happened at our wedding was during the cake cutting at the reception. Dennis and I talked beforehand about how it would go, and we didn't have plans for anything to get too crazy. Maybe a little bit of smeared frosting, but nothing crazy. Nothing crazy was the plan.

And then, the cake Dennis was about to give me took a nosedive straight down the front of my dress. We won't share the comment my dad made. You can just use your imagination. :)

*This post is a part of Writer's Workshop at Mama's Losin' It.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wordful Wednesday - Gettin' crazy with menu plans - yeah, baby!

I already told you about how we're having to pinch our pennies like crazy this month, and that our grocery budget is a measly $150.

How can a family of three possibly manage on that?

Well, it helps that our child refuses to eat pretty much anything besides goldfish crackers, graham crackers, yogurt, eggs and milk, but that's beside the point. And, eliminating non-essentials like sodas, cookies, etc., helps as well (but, since we stopped buying soda can I just tell you how bad I want a Diet Coke???)

Over a year ago, I started getting into coupons. Yes, I became *that* crazy coupon lady.

I joined a website called Coupon Sense that helps you organize coupons and matches up grocery store sales with coupons to maximize your savings, often resulting in free groceries.

They also teach you the strategy of stocking up on certain items when they're on sale, such as canned goods and anything that can be frozen.

So, I try to keep stockpiles of things like boneless, skinless chicken breast and 93% lean hamburger in my freezer. I also stock up on cereal when it's on sale (like the time I got 15 boxes of name brand cereal for $13.84), as well as things like diapers, baby wipes and personal care items. CVS is one of my favorite places to get those types of things for free.

Anyway, at the end of October when I tirelessly crunched the numbers to attempt to get our budget balanced, I realized our grocery budget needed to be cut - waaaay down. I hadn't been too gung ho with the coupon usage (I tend to go in spurts with it), and I realized I needed to hunker down and get back on the bandwagon.

I started with a menu plan, and I was able to come up with an entire month's worth of meals based on just the ingredients we had in our house (of course, things requiring dairy and other perishables would need the occasional ingredient here or there).

Sure, we don't have much of anything extravagant - you'll see things like bean and cheese burritos, blueberry pancakes, sloppy joes, Hamburger Helper, and spaghetti, but really - those are the kinds of things we like.

When it comes to side dishes, I've got things like Betty Crocker boxed potatoes and frozen veggies that I got for free or nearly free with coupons.

So, looking at that calendar and seeing what I was able to do for our family as a result of using coupons, stockpiling, and planning ahead made me feel really good.

We've got roughly $37.50/week to spend on groceries, and for the rest of this month, I'll be telling you how that goes. So far this week, I've gotten 3 gallons of milk, a carton of eggs and some Egg Beaters.

I love a good challenge, and I'm confident we can do this. When times get tough, we just need to get creative.

Your turn: What are your favorite meals that are cheap to make? Do you do menu plans? How do you save money on food?

*This post is a part of Wordful Wednesday, hosted each week by Angie at 7 Clown Circus.

Because it's a curl up with good book and a hot cup of chai kind of day...

The only thing that could make this day more cozy would be huge snowflakes outside my window and some fuzzy slippers.

But, for some odd reason, our weather has decided to take a break from the frigid temperatures and grace us with some warm sunshine.

So, no fuzzy slippers for me, but I do plan on a cup of chai (along with a good book) as soon as I'm done writing.

I am just about finished reading Your Oasis on Flame Lake, by Lorna Landvick, and I have loved it from the very beginning. The first book I read of hers was Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, and from then on, she's been a favorite author of mine.

I hate to be without a book to read, so I figured we better high tail it to the library so I'd have a book waiting for me when I finish this one.

Kaylee and I made a trip to the library this morning and picked out some new books, but as soon as she started going ballistic, we bee lined it to the car and came back home.

I really, really wanted to read Hunger Games because Tiffany has put it right up there next to the Twilight series classifying it as official "crackliture." I've heard raving reviews about here and there on different blogs, and so I'm dying to get my hands on it. But, the library didn't have a copy available, and I'm an instant gratification kind of girl, so I moved on to my second choice.

I chose this little gem - A Girl Named Zippy - which I am fulling expecting to be fabulous because Jenners, author of the blog Life With a Little One and More (one of my very first blogging buddies) recommended it on her book blog, Find Your Next Book Here. The book is a memoir of a girl who grew up in a small town (I, too, happen to be a small town girl), and it's supposed to be just delightful.

Which is something I need more of in my life - delightfulness.

Kaylee and I got home, and I proceeded to put in her newest video - some variation of Play With Me Sesame that she picked out at the library. I did my best to provide her with cheese, milk, crayons, and lovable, furry old Grover while I sat there on the couch and read more of my book.

Eventually, the movie ended, so we moved into her room for a change of scenery. The sun hits her room about midday, so I opened the blinds and curled up there on the floor in a patch of sunlight just like my old cat, Molly, would have done.

Kaylee played and I read, basked in the sunlight and relaxed. And of course, we played here and there.

Sure, there were other ways we could have spent the time. We could have gone to the store, done the laundry, or cleaned the house.

But, we didn't.

Because it's a curl up with a good book and a hot cup of chai kind of day.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Learning to get by with less

With the crazy influx of medical bills that are steadily streaming in, it was high time to sit down and come up with a rather strict budget for November.

I sat down, listed all our expenses, figured out our estimated income and came close to a few tears when I saw that we weren't going to break even, and that was before we paid anyone for all of Kaylee's medical expenses.

I'm a firm believer that if you're smart with your money, you can make things work, and no matter how life gets, it seems like we'll never go without the essentials.

Right now, things are about as tight as they've ever been, and figuring out how to make things balance was nothing short of a monumental task, but I think we've managed to do it.

It started with a few cuts.

The home phone had to go.

Our monthly pest control had to go (and I'm just crossing my fingers that the cold weather keeps the nasty bugs out in the meantime!).

We downgraded to the lowest DirecTV package. And with it went CMT, GAC, TLC and Discovery Health...waaahhh!

The membership to the gym had to go.

The grocery budget is also a slim $150, but we already have enough food for dinner for the entire month (more on that Wednesday).

The allowance for eating out and "fun" stuff is at a big fat zero.

And, we're in the process of working with to try and negotiate a lower monthly rate on our mortgage.

We're down to just the essentials, folks, but we're going to break even, and if Craigslist is good to us and the lovely locals want to buy some of our unused crap, we might even be able to put some money in savings or pay extra toward the medical bills.

Times are tough for ALL of us. What have you had to cut back on, and what are you doing to save money?