Highs & Lows – Week of March 27th

Happy Friday folks! Busy weekend ahead?

Ours is shaping up to be pretty quiet except for Margs’ swimming lessons. Mer has been working evening shift all week and we’re all extra tired from the change of routine. We’ll be spending the weekend eating good food, relaxing, taking walks, watching movies and resting up for the coming week.

If you’re just catching up here are the posts that I published this week.

Highs

Surviving a complete change of schedule. Our little family was thrust into a night shift this week. Every few months, Mer works a 3 pm – 12 am shift for a couple of weeks. Well, it’s the first time he’s on this shift since Margs has developed a little bit of separation anxiety. She’s super excited to have her dad home during the day and we were really worried about how her nighttime routine would go since he usually puts her to sleep for the night. This little girl is a rock star and has been adapting like a champ all week!

A few small home reno projects are being discussed. When we bought this house last year it was pretty much in move in condition. There were a few things we wanted to change but agreed that they weren’t pressing issues and that we’d hold off. Mer and I have been discussing tackling each project and I’m really excited to get started. Our list includes: removing wallpaper from our foyer and painting it a neutral color, repainting the powder room which currently has a black ceiling and landscaping the front of the house to give it a little more curb appeal. I’m looking forward to taking this on!

light-romantic-flowers-date-7550.jpg

Lows

Rainy wetness most of the week. It rained on and off all week which meant Margs and I didn’t get the chance to play outside much. Thankfully her father was home during the day and she thought it was the coolest thing ever. Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and I’m crossing my fingers for nice weather this weekend because all this rain is a real downer.

Baby blood work. It’s done and I guess that’s what counts but oh man the process sucked. I’m crossing my fingers her results are fine and we wont have to venture down that road again anytime soon (routine anemia work up). In a nutshell it took 2 phlebotomists and Mer to hold her down. It was just awful.

QOD

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of March 27th?

Save

Save

Advertisements

Taming my inner mama bear- why jumping in might not always be the best solution

So it happened, earlier than expected but, it happened. At play group last week my 15 month old daughter was intentionally pushed to the ground when she tried to play with an older child who wasn’t in the mood to share that day.

My heart just about broke into a million pieces. I watched in disbelief as this unknown to me child put her hands on my baby and forcefully pushed her to the ground. I stood there dumbfounded and processed what had just happened. I mean, I somehow thought that I’d have at least a few more years before I’d have to deal with this sort of thing – she’s still a baby for crying out loud.

My reaction was probably pretty typical. I ran over, picked up my kid and comforted her because that was what my momma instincts told me to do. (To be fair, although shocked by what had happened Margs wasn’t hurt, crying or otherwise upset) I watched the other child simply continue playing with really no awareness of what had just happened.

 

baby

I spent the rest of the day pretty upset. I was sad that Margs had been excluded. I was angry that she was put in a situation where she was vulnerable and defenseless. I was infuriated that another child took my daughters agency away and may have potentially showed my daughter that physical displays of aggression are okay when things don’t go your way.

Then I realized my kid wasn’t even upset by it and I realized that all I want for this little girl is for her to be comfortable in her own skin, set boundaries and not let this sort of stuff upset her the way it upsets me.

This was about me and not herIt’s 100% about my insecurities about dealing with these types of situations and my own feelings of inadequacy when it comes to parenting.

feet

Mer and I had a long long long discussion that night about how we’re going to deal with these types of situations. Sure, she’s small right now but soon enough (sooner than we’re probably comfortable with) our little girl will come home upset because of something similar – what then? Do we jump in and help her “deal” with the issue, do we leave her to her own devices to figure it our for herself? What is the right approach? What method will help her foster independence, boundaries and self love?

As we discussed it our attitude changed from helping her deal (mediating the issue) to taking a very very passive and supportive role. Although Margs will have to proverbially trip and fall a few hundred times before she figures it out – neither of us truly feels like it’s our place to get involved in issues between children (we’re looking ahead here to when she’s old enough to understand these types of situations for herself). It is not my job to find out why, it’s also not my job to scold someone else’s child for behaviors I perceive as inappropriate, it’s not my job to resolve these types of issues – it’s between the children.  My job is to make sure my kid is equipped with communication skills, empathy and the confidence to deal with these situations herself. Sure, they may not always go her way – but my job is to make sure she’s as equipped as possible to deal with whatever is handed to her and not to solve it for her.

But bullying said Mer. What are we gonna do if she gets bullied? Just stay out of it?

Of course not I responded! If her safety whether that be emotional or physical is threatened to a degree that she is unable to manage with her communication skills then clearly we’d get involved – my goal is to raise her to be a strong, confident little girl who will come to me to discuss what is going on. I’d like to think that I’m raising her to be aware of her needs, to acknowledge what makes her uncomfortable and to admit when she needs help.

In retrospect, I’m not sure if I handled the situation correctly. At only 15 months old my instinct was to run to her and comfort her. Yet, I question if she really needed to be comforted or if my instincts were somehow to make me feel better about the situation. Parenting is hard. Decisions even harder – we often have to react in the moment and are then left to question if we made the right decision.

QOD

How do you handle these types of situations?

 

Save

Where to find free images to use for your blog and social media posts

Morning friends! How’s your week shaping up so far?

If you’re just popping in and want to catch up on this weeks posts they can be found here and here. There’s an interesting discussion going on about morning routines so please feel free to join in if you haven’t already!

I’ve been receiving quite a few emails and comments about blog photography recently so I figured it would probably be  a good idea to write up a post about the topic if anyone reading is curious. Pictures are really important when writing up a blog post aren’t they? I feel like they add a certain visual element to the story you’re telling/information you’re sharing which helps the reader get a better visual of the nuances you are trying to communicate.

freephotos

As much as I enjoy taking photos, there is simply no way that I could manage taking all original photos all of the time. When I do have a moment to snap some pictures I gladly share them here on the blog or on Instagram but generally speaking I don’t have enough free time to really focus on good quality photography (which makes me incredibly sad because this was a very dear hobby of mine!). When I first started this blog I was snapping photos with my iPhone and felt very overwhelmed by the quality of photos I was seeing on other blogs! The blog world is pretty intimidating isn’t it? Sure, some bloggers take their own photos but a good chunk do not which I discovered after doing a little googling after seeing a dozen or so bloggers use the same image. Did you know that there are royalty free images that you can use on your blog without attribution? If not, I’m about to share a few of my favorite sites!

Pexelswww.pexels.com

Pixabaywww.pixabay.com

Photopinwww.photopin.com

Stock Vaultwww.stockvault.net

Free Pixelswww.freepixels.com

These are just a few of the sites that are out there! If you google royalty free images I’m sure you’ll pull up a ton more options. Always have a good look at the conditions of use before diving in just to confirm they are in fact free and royalty free!

If you have any questions feel free to post a comment below or shoot me an email.

QOD

What are your free photo websites?

Save

Starting the day on the right foot – the importance of having a solid morning routine

A few weeks back I had a listen to The Power of A Morning Ritual from the Accidental Creative. I was at a point where I often found myself frantic, scattered and overwhelmed in the morning which made me irritable and unpleasant the rest of the day. Mornings around here can get pretty busy. Mer is up and trying to get ready for his work day while I’m mostly dealing with Margs on my own (who wakes up FULLY energized and ready to rock) which leaves very little time to wake up, focus and start the day off on the right foot.

For quite some time, we had a great system going. She’d wake up and we’d cuddle in bed together for a good while before we all headed downstairs to get a start on our day. Recently though, she’s decided that once her eyes open she’s got to get right out of bed and mosey on down the stairs. This leaves very little time for me to do anything for myself since before I know it I need to whip breakfast together, change her diaper/clothes and start moving and shaking to keep up with her.

The Accidental Creative podcast was really eye opening and helped me realize how badly I needed to nail down a realistic morning routine that would help me start the day on a positive note instead of a frantic, scattered and impatient one. Does anyone else feel like their morning flow somehow predicts how the rest of the day will go?

Todd Henry talks a lot about centering yourself in the morning. To do this, he suggests waking up at the same time every morning and essentially taking the time to just sit and be with your thoughts. He outlines his process with includes things like reading, clearing your mind, reflecting and writing. Although inspiring and likely very beneficial for him, I didn’t necessarily feel that his approach was a good fit for my current lifestyle.

What did stick though was his idea that we need a predictable period of time to be alone. In my case, waking up with Margs as opposed to before her gave me basically zero opportunities to just sit and be still with my own thoughts or to do basic things like shower and get dressed for the day.

Inspired by this idea of  “predictable periods of alone time” I set out to create a morning routine that would help me refocus my energy in the morning and start things off on a better foot. I’ve been following this routine for roughly 2 weeks and although I’m sleeping less I feel far more energized and ready to take on the day. Below is a rough idea of my morning ritual which is really quite simple and so far has been really effective.

love-pen-bed-drinking

I wake up before Margs. Margs wakes around 7 am and to give myself ample time to complete my routine I set my alarm for 5:30 am to give myself roughly 1.5 hours of alone time at the start of my day.

I sip my coffee while listening to podcasts for 30 minutes. I’ve gone so far as preparing my coffee pot the night before so as not to waste any precious alone time in the morning. Sipping coffee and listening to inspiring podcasts helps me stay motivated and set realistic goals.

I write down 3 simple goals for the day. This step has proven to be the most important part of my ritual. Since I’m home with Margs, I’ve started to realize that I’d often get through the day coasting on mommy auto-pilot without necessarily achieving any specific goals. I’m a goal setter by nature and I felt like there was something missing from my day to day life. Now, I set 3 goals that I look forward to accomplishing each day. The goals can vary depending on what my day/week looks like but ultimately they make me feel better, more accomplished and motivated. Today’s goals included: calling a friend who has been struggling to let her know I was thinking of her, creating digital copies of important household documents and completing one creative activity with Margs. I accomplished all 3 and it felt really great to know that I followed through on 3 things that wouldn’t normally be part of my daily life.

I shower and get dressed. This is self explanatory I think. Having the time to take a proper shower and get dressed makes a world of difference in my mood. Some mornings were so busy that I’d only get the opportunity to shower and or get out of pajamas during Margs’ mid morning nap. Being dressed and ready to face the day before she even wakes up is really a game changer.

QOD

What does your morning routine look like?

Save

Save

20 frugal and delicious recipe ideas

One huge misconception about frugal living is that by taking a frugal approach to grocery shopping you consequently cannot eat well.

Food is expensive with fresh produce and meat likely the most costly of the items that make their way into your cart. At the outset of our journey, I vowed that I wouldn’t compromise the quality of the food we eat because what you eat is so important for living a healthy lifestyle. Not surprisingly, we had to get creative when it came to preparing meals because our grocery budget had to last us all week including, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. No exceptions. On average, we’re currently spending under 100$ per week to feed our family of 3.

Below are 20 of our  frugal family favorites. We’ve made each of these recipes and really enjoy them and I hope you do too if you decide to try them!

taco-soup-recipe.jpg

[1]

World’s Best Taco Soup from I heart Naptime

Savory Bacon Zucchini Frittata from The Nourishing Gourmet

ShepherdsPieTop

[2]

Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepards Pie from One Ingredient Chef

Cobb salad with Blue Cheese Dressing from 100 Days of Real Food

Sausage, Potato & Pepper Skillet from 5$ Dinners

simple-chicken-coconut-soup

[3]

Coconut Chicken Soup from Frugal Living NW

Sweet Ham & Swiss Sliders from Double the Batch

Loaded Vegetable Soup from Cozy Country Living

Salsa Chicken in the Slow Cooker from The Happy Housewife

[4]

Meatball Parmesan Casserole from Shugary Sweets

Swiss Chard Tomato Quiche from Real Food Real Deals

Slow Cooked Whiskey Molasses Shredded Beef from Frugal Minded Mom

Broccoli Cheese Soup from Don’t Sweat the Recipe

Fish Tacos in a Bowl from Frugal, Debt Free Life

5762718207_abff3ec718.jpg

[5]

Bean and Cheese Burritos from Pink Parsley

Salmon Patties from The Spruce

Quick Chicken Pot Pie from My Recipes

Hamburger Stroganoff from Food.com

Salsa Chicken Casserole spoon.jpg

[6]

Salsa Chicken CasseroleSalsa Chicken Casserole from Budget Bytes

Walnut Breadcrumb Pasta from My Recipes

QOD

Have any favorite frugal recipes to share?


Giving credit where credit is due!

1/ http://www.iheartnaptime.net/taco-soup-recipe/

2/ http://www.oneingredientchef.com/sweet-potato-shepherds-pie/

3/ http://www.frugallivingnw.com/healthy-coconut-chicken-soup-recipe-paleo-gluten-free-dairy-free/

4/ http://www.shugarysweets.com/2014/02/meatball-parmesan-casserole

5/ http://www.pink-parsley.com/2011/06/bean-and-cheese-burritos.html

6/ https://www.budgetbytes.com/2013/01/salsa-chicken-casserole/

Save

Save

Save

Save

Highs & Lows Week of March 20th

Morning! Got fun plans for the weekend?

Looking to read previous installments of Highs & Lows? Here they are: March 13th, March 6th, February 27thFebruary 20th, February 13th, February 6th!

If you’re just popping in, these are the posts I published this week.

Highs

Snow fun! Massive amounts of snow aren’t all bad! After spending an entire day digging trails and building slides in our back yard, Margs enjoyed zooming around in her sled! We went round and round and round again. In all, I think Mer and I dug out over 3km of trails for her to enjoy. Now, as the weather slowly warms up we’re hoping that the trails will keep at least for another week so baby girl can get a little more enjoyment out of them!

trails

Baked Oatmeal. This turned out so well! Margs, Mer and my mom all enjoyed eating this for breakfast all week. It’s a great frugal breakfast idea! Not only is it delicious but I used up some apples that were on the mealy side so it cut down on some food waste too. Such a great, easy and delicious breakfast that warms up so well in the microwave!

oatmeal.jpg

[1]

If you’re interested the recipe can be found right here: Healthy Baked Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

Bargain toddler clothes. Margs has managed to outgrow basically all her pajamas (again!). I headed over to the consignment shop and I was really disappointed to see that the owner is now splitting up the 2-piece pajama sets. At 3 or more bucks for each piece I decided to shop around and sure enough I found pajamas for 4$ a set at a local liquidation shop.

The material is super comfortable and soft and they fit her quite well so I’m pleased!

Lows

Margs got pushed. More on this next week but yeah my kid got pushed (intentionally) for the first time and I was heartbroken. I honestly thought I had at least another year or two until I’d have to deal with this sort of thing. In a nutshell, older kid pushed Margs down because she didn’t want to share her toy at play group. Kiddo just wanted to play so it was disappointing to see her excluded like that. #mustgrowthickermomskin

Stranger Things spooks me a little. I don’t really do well with sci-fi, horror or thriller. Mer decided that he wanted to watch so we’ve been watching a few episodes every night. Um, anyone else a little freaked after watching? I mean, parallel universes? It’s really good but it plays with your head a little no? Maybe I’m just a wimp?

strangerthings

QOD

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of March 20th?


Giving credit where credit is due:

1/ http://www.kimscravings.com/2016/10/healthy-apple-cinnamon-baked-oatmeal/

Save

Save

How to show support to a child loss survivor

I’d like to preface this post by touching on 2 separate but very important points.

First, I was somewhat reluctant to broach this topic. Although I’m a repeat loss mom and I’ve lived through child loss a number of times my opinions on the topic are my own and they are very much shaped by my political, religious and spiritual beliefs. As a result, what I perceive as supportive may not be comforting to everyone and vice versa. So, please, when reading this keep in mind that there is not a one size fits all approach to supporting families facing loss – it really really really depends on the person and their unique belief system.

Second, within this post you’ll find examples of things that were said to me over the years. I do not believe for one second that any of these statements were said with any malicious intent yet they were painful and hurtful to me while I grieved and so I will explain how they were perceived by me. I doubt (I’d like to believe anyway) that hurtful, malicious and ill meaning things would ever be said intentionally to a grieving family and as a result please do not be offended if you’ve ever uttered these words yourself. I do not for one minute believe that anyone means to be anything but supportive in these situations – sometimes though,  words can be perceived far differently than they were intended.

daisy.jpg

Do Say: I’m so sorry for your loss.

Don’t Say: I’m sorry for your loss. At least, you know you can get pregnant.

This statement was repeated to me more times than I can count and every time I heard it my heart would break open again. The thing is, getting pregnant doesn’t guarantee a baby. In my case getting pregnant wasn’t the hard part (until that became a problem too) – staying pregnant was. The odds were not in my favor and I was very open about my issues so attempting to comfort me by reminding me that I was fertile served only to remind me that my body was very efficient at ending pregnancies.

The at least part is also important to mention. There really isn’t any “at least” when talking about loss. “At least you lost this pregnancy early”, “at least you weren’t full term”, “at least you’re still young”. All these statements are loaded and quite hurtful – there is never an at least.

Do Say: I’m so sorry for your loss.

Don’t Say: Take comfort in knowing it was God’s plan.

This is a very controversial one. I was raised between the worlds of orthodoxy and Catholicism. Having one parent from each faith meant that although they held very different beliefs they each believed that God was our creator. I was never (still am not) very religious but I do believe in God and as a consequence I struggled with my own belief system a lot over the last few years. I was angry and questioned why God would punish me in such a horrible way? Why would He bless me through conception only to take my precious babies away? As a result, when family and friends tried to comfort me with statements about it being God’s plan I was often quite angry because it was hard to understand why I was chosen to suffer this way while others were not.

Do Say: I’m so sorry for your loss.

Don’t Say: It’s for the best! Clearly there must have been something terribly wrong with the baby.

Often times pregnancies end for no known reason. In my case my losses were caused by structural issue within my uterus. My condition is actually considered a müllerian defect which I was born with so my 3 losses had everything to do with me and not the babies. Having said that, a child lost to issues like mine or to chromosomal anomalies is still a a lost child.  I cannot speak for those parents who’ve lost children to genetic issues but this statement is so incredibly difficult to digest. Even IF there would have been something terribly wrong with any of my babies, losing them would still never be okay.

statue

Do Say: I’m so sorry for your loss.

Don’t Say: I know how you feel. I lost my dog who was like a child to me.

Pets are members of the family aren’t they? We’ve got a total of 3 cats and a dog co-habitating with us here at TTBH and although I love my furbabies dearly losing a child is simply not the same thing. I don’t for a second believe that a statement like this is made with the intention of comparing the losses. Instead, I feel like it’s an attempt to find a common ground by sharing grief. Yet, every time this was said to me (and yes it was said more than once) I couldn’t help but wince – losing a child is just not the same as losing a pet. Period.

Do Say: I’m so sorry for your loss.

Don’t Say: You’ll have another baby and it’ll make the pain go away.

At some points on my journey when I was deep in depression facing more bad news than good I naively thought there might be a little truth to this statement. Sadly, having Margs has actually amplified my grief for my lost babies. As I watch her grow I catch myself questioning what the other babies would have been like. Would they have similar personalities? Enjoy the same things? Look similar? Each baby is unique, loved and special and as a result having another child does not fill the void left by a lost baby.

Do Say: I’m sorry for your loss.

Don’t Say: Everything happens for a reason.

What possible reason could justify so much heartache? Why are some families blessed with children while others are fighting to bring one into the world? I never quite understood the meaning behind this statement and unfortunately it’s probably the most common one I’ve heard over the last 5 or so years. There is no justifiable reason to make loss okay. Losing a baby is never okay. Never.

x4e0qq6

A few tips for showing support to grieving parents:

  • Just say “I’m sorry”. That’s truly the only thing you can say.
  • Don’t burden yourself with trying to make the parents feel better. You simply can’t. Acknowledging the loss and the grief is enough. You can’t fix this – only time can heal.
  • Grieve with mom and dad. Fathers are often forgotten when it comes to pregnancy loss. They grieve too.
  • Offer to help if you can. Cook a meal, drop off groceries offer to babysit older children. Every lit bit helps and is so so appreciated.
  • Give the family time. Child loss is incredibly difficult and it takes time to find a new normal. Your friend or family member will likely never be the same but will eventually find a new sense of normal. Be patient – they are battling and living one of the most traumatic experiences life can offer.

 

 

 

5 ways being frugal is different than being cheap

It’s no secret that Mer and I live a frugal lifestyle. Actually, we come from a long line of frugal gurus and despite getting a little off-track in our 20s we tend to really live by the mantra that excess doesn’t bring happiness or joy to our lives. As a result, we really limit our spending and most months we can keep our expenses at around 1000$.

Recently, we watched an episode of Extreme Cheapskates. We were drawn to it because of our frugal tendencies but after watching I was left questioning if living frugally means the same thing as living cheaply. My resounding answer is no – it’s absolutely different.

Here are a few reasons why!

lakeview

Frugal living is about prioritizing and saving for a larger life goal. We don’t live frugally to hoard away all our money and never spend it. Quite the opposite actually.  We live frugally so we can save money and use it to fulfill our life goals. Our first goal was getting out of debt, the second was saving up half the down payment for our first home and most recently we’re working towards saving up a fund to purchase a vacation home which we plan to rent out to help cover the costs of a second mortgage and all the associated costs involved in owning a property. Cheapness is oriented towards saving money for the sake of saving without having an end goal in mind whereas living frugally gives you the power to realize life goals however costly.

familymeal

Frugal living doesn’t come at the expense of others.  Although we choose to live a frugal lifestyle those around us never feel like their are deprived when visiting or spending time with us. When it comes to things like dinner plans, social events or family gatherings we always put our best foot forward. Recently, when hosting a dinner party we fed our guests a feast of delicious food. We were still very much conscious of what we bought opting to create delicious meals around items that were on sale as opposed to full price. Our goal was having a lovely meal with our closest friends and family and our number one priority was that our guests have good laughs and a full belly! Being frugal is about being creative and conscious of how you spend your money while being cheap is about prioritizing the amount of money you can save even if that means disregarding the needs of others.

piggybank

Frugal living isn’t about not spending money. Surprisingly, we spend quite a bit of money on things we deem important and necessary.  We don’t scrimp on things like dental or healthcare, we eat good quality food and make sure to make purchases that we know will be beneficial to our lifestyle. Frugal living isn’t about saving every penny – it’s about making informed, conscious decisions about what you choose to spend your money on. As an example, both Margs and I have very sensitive skin and as a result we opt to buy costly laundry detergent that keeps our skin rash and itch free. Sure, there are far cheaper options out there but I would never opt to save a few dollars and put myself or Margs at risk for skin reactions.

fruits.jpg

Frugal living is about value and not cost. Frugal living means spending money wisely. Recently, Mer and I decided that it was time to replace our winter boots since both our pairs were really on their last legs. We live in an extremely cold northern climate and during the winter months appropriate footwear is essential. We could have spent 50$ on boots and called it a day but we made an investment in better quality boots that are conducive to holding up to our harsh Canadian winters. We ended up spending nearly 300$ (on sale!)  combined but we’re confident that these boots will last us for quite a few years and most importantly keep our feet warm and dry for many winters to come. We try to use the same philosophy of value over cost when we’re purchasing food, clothing and furniture. We’re not in an income bracket that allows us to necessarily buy the best quality all of the time but we do make conscious decisions to purchase things of mid-range quality or better (if we can swing it) at a higher cost to gain product longevity. Replacing things is so no fun!

tea.jpg

Frugal living isn’t about obsessing about saving money. As shocking as it might sound, Mer and I really don’t obsess about our bank accounts. Sure, we check in from time to time to make sure everything is as it should be but we rarely have a look to scrutinize where our money goes. We’ve sort of automated our frugal lifestyle and the routine of not spending is just so ingrained in us that we rarely need to check in to see how much we’ve spent. We have a rough budget for groceries and weekly expenditures and we simply stick to our budget as best we can. Sure, there are weeks that we go over. For example, our local grocer was having a sale on organic chickens a couple weeks back so I completely blew our weekly grocery budget and stocked our freezer full of chickens to make delicious meals in the months to come. Frugal living isn’t about obsessing about money. It’s more a lifestyle choice that allows you not to focus on money at all!  By living on a budget we end up saving money (albeit at different increments each month) which is is the consequence of choosing to spend our money wisely.

Basically, if I were to summarize this entire post in just a few words I’d have to say that cheap people focus on not spending money while frugal ones spend it with intention and purpose.

QOD

What are your thoughts? Is being cheap and frugal the same thing?

 

Save

Save

Save

Save