A Sleep Deprived Mother’s Lament

Dear Mother Nature,

If you decide that today is a good day to throw tornadoes and damaging wind around like confetti, could you please be a dear and wait until a more reasonable hour? 4am is not exactly a great time for me to be bright eyed and bushy tailed. It’s also not a great time for me to wake up my sleeping 1 year old who was having the best night’s sleep he’s had in about a month. I’m not lying, I’m a bit annoyed about that. If you would like to make it up to me, I’ll be accepting crisp, sunny days and tea. Lots of tea.

Drowsily yours,
A Mother with Bags Under Her Eyes

P.S. Storm season is in the spring. Get it together, buddy.

Nous Sommes Tous Parisiens

Tonight, I cannot get the horror of what happened in Paris out of my head. The carnage and sheer lack of regard for human life appall me. How do some people find it perfectly acceptable and even praiseworthy to take another person’s life? Let alone over 100 lives? Those people who were lost this evening were daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces… How does anyone think they have the right to take them away from the world prematurely?

And, not only did these people, if you can call them that, take these precious lives from us, they are also trying to turn us against one another. They’re trying to strip us of our trust and love of one another. They’re trying to rid us of our compassion. Their entire purpose is to spread terror, so their legacy will continue to live on and rob us of our happiness for the indefinite future. While we were unable to stop the bloodshed, we can stop the second part of their evil scheme. 

Even in times of unimaginable despair, there are “the helpers.” For instance, in Paris tonight, even amongst all of the chaos and uncertainty, people were offering up their homes and businesses as safe houses for those looking for a safe haven during the madness by using the hashtag #PorteOuverte on Twitter. They were showing love and compassion to complete strangers who, in turn, trusted them enough to accept their open door policy as a safe place to hunker down until the madness ended. “You will always find people who are helping.”

We cannot let these terrorists convince us to treat each other poorly. That would truly allow them to win. Instead, we need to love each other fiercely and be one of “the helpers.” Love will overcome, and love will make this world a place where I will no longer be afraid for my son’s generation growing up. 

I Want

I want all the other penny pinching mamas to know that they’re not alone. I want to create a welcoming new community where people can share money saving ideas and projects and ways they’ve overcome their debts or hardships. I want a more real feeling representation of this crazy thing called motherhood, where it’s not always Pinterest perfect, and we don’t take pictures in designer clothes on the beach in the Bahamas. There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s your reality, but it is definitely not mine in this stage of life. Mothers should build each other up, not tear each other down, and that’s exactly the type of community I hope to build in this little corner of the internet. 

DIY Harry Potter Costume

You may have seen there was no Frugal Friday post yesterday. That’s because it was all about making Owen’s Halloween costume, and I had to finish up the final details late last night. Haha. I’m a little bit of a procrastinator…

I originally started looking for costumes on Amazon, assuming they’d be the cheapest. However, the costumes were still all very expensive, so, instead, I decided to try my hand at making Owen’s costume instead. Yes, it took more time, but it also saved us a lot of money. Instead of a $40 outfit from Amazon, I made his outfit for less than $5.
1st Halloween 3

To start his outfit, I began making the item that would take the longest first: the scarf. It wasn’t hard to do, since my grandmother taught me how to knit at an early age. It just took a little bit of time. I bought the yarn at Michael’s with two different coupons, and they were pretty amazingly accurate for a Griffindor scarf! IMG_2762

Last night (the night before Halloween, ahem…) I made his robe. While a little more involved, it was really quick. All I needed was a black tshirt, fabric scissors, pins, a sewing needle, black yarn, and a light colored pencil. I started by marking where I needed to cut and sew (in order to make the sleeves long), and then it was just a little bit of scissor work and sewing. It would have been a little faster if I had a sewing machine, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? IMG_2764IMG_2766

Finally, I just had to put Owen in some pants and a button down shirt that he already owned, apply a little eyeliner to make his scar, and boom! Instant Harry Potter. 1st Halloween 1I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!

And Their Lives Were Forever Changed

25 years ago today, a mother and her three children (ages 13, 10, and 4) moved to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean to start a new life in the United States. They left behind all of their family and friends, and they stepped out of their comfort zone and into something that felt very foreign to them. They didn’t have much more with them other than a few outfits, some kitchenware, their family photos, and some items that reminded them of home. Everything else had been sold to help pay for the move, even a piano that had been in the family for three generations.

This is how my family started our adventure in this country. I was the four year old.

 The only person we knew when we moved was my American step-father, and the rest was just my mother stepping out in faith that she and her children would have a better life in America. She later told me, when I was in my early 20s, that she almost said “no” to her new husband when he suggested we move the family to America. She knew she would be leaving everything she knew behind, and, even worse, she would be leaving her entire family behind.

For a while, it was hard. We tried to become accustomed to our new surroundings and culture, and each of us was going through a barrage of emotions. We all felt out of place and we yearned to be back with our family. Some of our elderly family members died relatively soon after we moved, and we were all heartbroken that we could not afford to go to their funerals. Tensions were high in our new home. It’s not easy being different (especially as children), it’s not easy being torn from your family, and it’s not easy trying to acclimate to a completely different way of living. To make matters worse, we were all made fun of or ostracized by our peers.

After a while, we all learned to cope. We slowly but surely started thriving, in our own unique ways. With some of us (such as yours truly) you wouldn’t even guess we weren’t born here, if you didn’t know any better.

However, there will always be lingering effects from that move. We don’t have a large family nearby like we would have if we stayed. Instead, our family is now spread out in multiple countries. My siblings and I all have talked about how we feel like we don’t truly “belong” anywhere. We’re a bit too quirky to be from around here, but we don’t 100% feel like we belong when we go back “home” to visit either.

We’ve each learned to own these feeling, even laugh at them at times, and we’re all thankful for the opportunities presented to us from that move. My mother and step-father eventually owned their own businesses, my brother has an amazing job and lovely wife, my sister has two great kids and has found a pretty cool network of friends where she currently lives, and I was able to have some amazing musical experiences that probably would not have happened otherwise, met my husband, and had our sweet boy.

 Here’s to 25 years of learning, meeting genuinely awesome people, and having unique experiences that have formed the quirky person that I am. I may forget who I’m talking to and pronounce or spell things differently, I may not always be able to relate to certain experiences, but I will always do my best to treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve. You never know what people are going through, and everyone deserves to feel included, even if they are a little bit different.

Unexpected Blessings

I’ve been grappling with ideas about what to blog about recently. While there have been some rough moments recently, there have also been some times where I couldn’t help feeling amazingly blessed. So, instead of giving the negative any more thought, I’m going to focus on the good. 

There have recently been some family needs stressing me out because I didn’t know how we were going to pay for them. Our vacuum finally died after 7 years, 2 moves, and 4 animals, and Owen is getting so big he needed a new car seat ASAP. Both are pretty big ticket items for my family’s current stage in life, so I was trying to think of ways to buy them without putting it on credit. Then, amazingly, two things happened to allow us to afford them. 

First, I found an old Best Buy gift card in my husband’s bedside table. I assumed it was either empty or only had a few dollars left on it, but I called the number to check the balance anyway. $200! I was giddy with excitement when I realized that there was my money for the vacuum! We went to Best Buy and found a vacuum we liked. Because I had a 20% off coupon on Coupon Sherpa (if you don’t have that app…get it!), I didn’t need the full amount on the gift card, and I now have about $30 left over to use later.  Christmas present money maybe?

Then, it was just the car seat on the list of big ticket items to buy. I wanted a convertible car seat that could be rear facing, front facing, and a booster seat. However, those are a bit pricey. Then, an old friend from college recommended me to a person who needed orchestra members (I play bassoon) for a choir CD recording. Not only that, but once I started talking to them, I realized they also needed a clarinet, which my talented husband can play. With the money we received from recording, we were able to easily afford Owen’s convertible car seat! Added bonus: Babies R Us does price matching, so I was able to get a great deal! 

I feel so much less stressed now that those two things have been taken care of, and I feel so fortunate that we did not have to charge either of them. Being a one income family is tricky, but, every now and then, I get little signs that tell me everything is going to work out. 

The Essentials

A lot of the time, to make your budget work, you need to cut out any unnecessary spending. Remember: every little bit counts. While the amount saved may seem small to you, if you have enough of those small savings, it could actually help you immensely. Currently, I’m focusing on finding the best deals and cutting back in the following categories:

  • TV My husband and I have already decided that we are going to cancel our TV. We did this in the past to help ends meet, and we only reconnected it when we were on two full time incomes. Now that we’re down to one again, it’s time for it to go. While it is nice to have the ability to record our favorite shows and have a lot of content available to choose from, it’s not worth the cost to us. Instead, we’ll be using one or two streaming services (such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.) and using our antenna to pick up local channels. We don’t watch much TV anyway, so this will not be too big of an adjustment for us.
  • Internet Often bundled with the TV is the internet. Look at their competitor’s prices, call the existing company, give them a chance to match, and, if they will not, change. It’s a bit of a process but worth it financially. Plus, our internet has recently been ridiculously slow for some reason, so I would probably be doing this anyway, even without the savings incentive. Some people are able to go without internet altogether. However, at this time, that’s just not the right choice for our family.
  • Electricity Don’t be afraid to shop around for the energy company with the cheapest rates. Sometimes, promos may sound good, but they’re not as great of a deal as they seem. For instance, it’s awesome if you get free nights, but it may not make much of a difference if the daytime rates are through the roof.
  • Cell Phone This is one that my husband and I are struggling with to find the best deal. Shop around for prices, and don’t be afraid to pit the companies against each other. For instance, if another cell has a great rate for new customers, mention the rate to your current company while mentioning the fact that you’re thinking of switching for the better rate. Miraculously, they may be able to match it or even do better. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for discounts. Members of the military, teachers, government officials, and senior citizens often get a percentage off their monthly bill. You just have to ask for the discount.

I would love to hear how you’ve saved money on these services! What great deals have you found?