Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Budgeting

I'm sad Thanksgiving is over, but oh so happy to have a bunch of my sweet husband's turkey soup! Yum!

Along with loving the soup-y goodness, I am now facing dreading how to get gifts for everyone I want to give gifts to, without breaking the bank. In fact, I'd much prefer to spend as little money as possible without being just "cheap".

So far, I have gifts for all the little kids I know what to get. A few kids I know have gotten too big, or are way into more expensive hobbies(like video games or skate boarding)for me to even begin to figure out what to get them that wouldn't take all of my budget. Therefore, they will be getting what I give their parents: baked goods.

I figure making goodies would be a fun gift to give everyone AND it will be very budget friendly. I have to admit: this will be my first year making food for gifts. I am hopeful it doesn't turn into a disaster.

For budget friendly ideas though, baking food is as far as I can get. I have made crafts before for gifts, but still, getting everything you need from the craft store is expensive. Any ideas from other budget conscious people? What are you doing this year to keep from spending too much?

We are pretty lucky the kids are so little, because they won't know that things are tight this year-in fact, they won't even know or care that over half of what they are getting are REALLY AWESOME "hand me down" toys from the older boys across the street.

Our boys won't realize none of it is new, because it will be new for them. And that has really gotten me thinking.

Perhaps our very tight budget this year is really for the good-we can't just go buy new toys for everyone we know. We can't just go get whatever the boys are wanting-and I think that is a good thing. And not that we ever just spent crazy amounts of money at Christmas, but the cost certainly would add up quickly.

I think getting used toys and being grateful and thankful for them, is a value and virtue I want our children to have always, even on years when our budget could be bigger. Because regardless of what all the commercials throw at us all day, Christmas is about being with your family, reflecting on yourself, your character, helping others, and being thankful and humble for the birth of Christ.

None of which, need a huge budget of gifts to be enjoyed.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We will be with my awesome in laws, enjoying family and hopefully convincing all the girls to watch Pride and Prejudice with me.

I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving; it is exciting that Little Dude is old enough this year to really get into it and have fun. Remember tracing your hand to make turkeys out of construction paper? I can't wait. I'm taking all the stuff to Ed and Patty's so she can have fun watching Little Dude decorate his "turkey". I also made corn pudding, which I LOVE and can't wait to dig into.

I also have a review and contest going on here for some K'NEX blocks, which I am no IN LOVE WITH. Any blocks that let Little Dude build and withstand JR's attempts to knock down are peacemakers in our house!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chaos

In college, I majored in English. That doesn't mean I am a particularly good writer, or even understand all grammar rules; however, it does mean I have a very deep fondness for the English language-especially alliteration (the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables). When I was trying to come up for a name for my blog I racked my brain trying to think of some catchy title that played on alliteration. Thus Coordinated Chaos came to be.

But I had no idea, back then when I had just one tiny baby, just HOW MUCH chaos would be taking over my house.

Like today. The kids were eating jelly toast when I realized I had not taken the trash to the curb yet-the realization brought on by the sound of the trash truck rumbling down the road. So, out the door I flew.

And in the process of dragging the heavy trash can (super heavy today because our old mail box and post are in it, yes I did that project Sunday)I put a *tiny* scratch in Bill's truck, right near the headlight. It is maybe an inch and really light, but still, I feel retarded. Who can't move a trash can without running into a truck? Only me. Anyways.

In the time it took me to drag the trash and recycling to the curb-which I made it just as the truck stopped to grab my cans-the kids proceeded to cover my floor and table with jam and toast crumbs. When I say covered, I mean COVERED. Yea, I was dumb and left the jam jar on the table, just ENTICING the kids to dump it out and smear it around. I haven't cleaned it up yet because I just don't even know where to start. If I ignore it, the mess will go away, right?

Then, in the time it took me to get the sheets, towels and clothes from my room down to the laundry room for washing, the boys had taken the CLEAN clothes I'd brought up, THROWN them around the living room and dinning room and THEN filled up that laundry basket with my VERY OLD book collection that used to belong to Bill's Grandpa, and Bill's Dad gave to me when he discovered I had actually read (and love) most of the classics.

I finally got all of that cleaned up, only to discover Little Dude and JR had taken all of JR's toys from his room and put them in a huge pile on the closet floor. All. of. the. toys.

So now the kids are watching some TV-and actually sitting still-while I work up the courage to tackle the kitchen mess. And what time is it? 10am? Since it is completely muddy, nasty and cold outside, we won't be leaving the house to burn off energy unless I pay for us to go somewhere OR just go for a walk. Which I think we will do as soon as I finish cleaning the kitchen, if for no other reason than to keep another disaster from happening.

But hey, at least we are all dressed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and I am armed with my grocery list. We are going to be spending the holiday with my in-laws; however, I am going to be making the corn pudding and I'm excited because it is THA BOMB. Yes, THA BOMB. Greatest stuff ever that my grandma's grandma always made, on down the line on my Dad's side, and now I get to make. Holidays and growing up are fun like that.

But I digress.

This Thanksgiving is particularly hard for some people to find thankfulness. I have so many friends that still can't find jobs-and have been out of jobs for over a year now. I know a few people that are losing their homes to foreclose, and because I work in the real estate marketing industry, I am constantly reading about how hard the economy is in areas all over the country right now. And it is scary.

But in a way, what is scary is also good. Spending less on things we don't need has made me realize what we do need: just time with friends and family. We need the ability to be thankful for what we have and not dwell on what we want or don't have.

Even in the worst situations, there are things to be thankful for, and the truest way to show thankfulness is to be content with what we have.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Favorite Babywearing Photos

These are some of my favorite babywearing photos:

JR curling up last winter; I love how his big eyes are staring at me.

At the park near our home in Alabama all snuggled up. I think JR was about 5 months here.
My very first carrier-a pouch sling. This was at my cousin's wedding-I think Little Dude was 10 months here.
On our way to Texas. This Mei Tai has become my favorite carrier now that JR is older.
JR watching the fish tank while we pose for a photo. This was in Texas at the Dallas Aquarium. Little Dude's head is down at the bottom.

Those are a few of my favorite babywearing moments. They are starting to get few and far between now that JR has decided he enjoys walking/running after his brother more, but when it is needed, my ring slings and Mei Tai have been a life saver.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jean Chatzky: Tips For Saving Money

I've been invited to talk with Jean Chatzky and some other very amazing mom bloggers, like Maria Bailey, for a Blogger Audiocast on how to save money in our economy AND how to keep your budget in check for Christmas. She will also be sharing recommendations on how to get your finances back on track after the holidays.

You can submit YOUR questions on how to stretch your money this Christmas by leaving comments here, tweeting me @MicheZ, or tweeting Jean @JeanChatzky.

The audiocast is today from 10am to 11am, EST, so be sure to follow along and check out www.jeanchatzky.com.

I also have a goody bag for one of my readers that includes Jean's new book, "Pay It Down!", focused how families can save, spend and survive in the current economic climate. To win, simply leave me a comment, either suggesting some of your budget keeping tips OR some of your budgeting questions (or both!).

I hope you enjoy! I'm looking forward to your tips and questions!

PS, the book I'm giving away was given to me for the purpose of giving to a reader and I did also get a copy for myself that I'm really excited to read!



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Prematurity Awareness Month

JR was considered a preemie, because he came at 35 weeks, right at the border of preemie and "normal".

I've never admitted it, but I do blame myself for the fact my water broke early. Perhaps I carried Little Dude too much, and he was too heavy for me. Perhaps chasing after our way-too-big German Shepard got me too worn out...perhaps I was doing to much, pushing too hard, and taking on too much stress.

Can I tell you I felt horribly stupid, scared, and completely, totally, over run with guilt I was when the doctor said I had a leak in JR's amnio sack, and I couldn't even tell him how long I might have had the leak?

So, of course, the only choice was to induce JR right then and there, since every minute there was a leak increased the chance of JR getting an infection, becoming terribly ill, or worse, dying.

And even though everyone says it wasn't my fault, I still feel like it was. My body failed at the one task is was made to do: provide a place for my baby to grow.
And as of now, the doctor has no idea what could have caused my water to break, but did warn me that I would be closely monitored if and when we have another child, because Little Dude also came early by a few weeks, and we certainly don't want it to be a pattern of having babies earlier and earlier.

But I'm lucky, my child is fine. I have a ton of online friends whose children have not been doing well, are still fighting day by day, or who have lost the fight to live in a world their little bodies weren't ready for yet.

Did you know 1 in 8 babies born in the US are preemies? And even though our medical advancements have grown by leaps and bounds, our numbers of premature births has increased significantly in the last decade?

So what can you do? The March of Dimes does extraordinary work to help preemies develop and grow after birth, and best of all, to help develop research and studies that can help keep babies inside their moms until they reach full term. You can learn more here: http://marchofdimes.com/prematurity/index_about.asp about how your donations can help with research, medical help, cost help, and support for preemies and their families.




Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baptism Photos

Bill, Me, JR, Godmother Caroline, and Godfather Sean. JR really did not want to take any photos; he wanted to go play with the other children.

The lovely and SUPER YUMMY cake JR's Godmother made for his "after party". That's how we do baptisms.

Reading a prayer before the oils were put on. The Catholic church used the most wonderful smelling oils and incense during baptism, (other churches might, too, I just don't know) and I wish I could have that smell around my house all the time.

Is there anything cuter than a baby in a suit?
We finally changed his clothes; the food mess was getting out of control. JR knows how to throw down cake!

Happy Baptism Day, JR!


Monday, November 16, 2009

JR was Baptized

This past Saturday, JR was Baptized, and even though I KNOW I'm biased, I think it was a beautiful event. Deacon Leo gave an amazing homily, most of our friends and family were able to attend, and JR was an angel for most of the event.

Though I think my favorite was when Deacon Leo put the baptism robe on JR, and started to say "This represents your Christian dignity", JR decided at that moment he was done having oils, water AND robes put on him, so he promptly tore the robe off and threw it down. Everyone got a really good chuckle out of that and I see myself filing that away as a story to tell his future wife.

After the Baptism, all our family and friends came back to our house for a fun cookout bash. The kids had SO much fun playing, and I was on cloud nine holding Alexis, Melissa and Criag's baby daughter. (SO ADORABLE!)

I got to hang out with my soul sister, Caitlin. We don't see each other often, but somehow we always end up having SO much in common. Like, currently, we have the same front door rug, (which we discovered this weekend when they came over-we have fabulous taste, eh? )and both are coveting the same Shabby Apple dress. She and I need to live closer; I've decided.

And there was THE MOST AMAZING CAKE EVER, made by JR's Godmother and my best girlfriend/neighbor, Caroline. I just melted in your mouth, and I am actually going to eat more once I finish here.

There is nothing like time with family and friends to remind you your worries are not worthy of worry at all.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Little Dude' s Little Sister

This morning, I was getting breakfast on the table for the kids-JR sitting and EXCITED to eat, while Little Dude was still in the bathroom doing his morning routine of saying "good morning" to all his toys.

The routine usually finishes-about the time I place breakfast on the table-with Little Dude running out to hop in his chair. This morning though, we had an extra mouth to feed.

Little Dude stumbled upon a little stuffed frog (that has not ever been played with) and promptly named it Little Sister.

We had to get her a plate and a drink at breakfast, though at lunch she had to nap and missed out on our sandwiches. Dinner? Little Sister thought it was SO YUMMY.

And it was fun hearing Little Dude telling his baby: good job! clean your toys up! time for a nap! go in the corner! let's read a story! are you thirsty?

And Little Dude (apparently at Little Sister's request) even tried to get some candy out of the parenting gig by insisting that she had been REALLY good and deserved some. I tried the pretend stuff, but that didn't fly.

Right now, Little Dude is curled up with Little Sister in bed, and was telling her all about Thomas the Train when I tucked him in. It was so cute to watch him, and I was really surprised he kept with the pretend play all day long. This three year old stage is super fun!

It will be interesting to see if he remembers the little frog toy in the morning.




Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Gotta Feeling

Today is gross. All rainy, kinda cold, and I have no idea how I'm going to entertain the kids; so far this morning I haven't done such a great job of it and the house has turned into a disaster zone.

I can't help but smile when I watch this though:



But really I think the day turns out the way your attitude expects it to.

Today is a good day because I get to meet up with an old high school friend and her daughter for lunch.

I've got a job that allows me to be at home and work on my time.

And best of all?

Today is an awesome day, because my two little nephews made it into the world last night at 33 weeks, and they are doing fantastic.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm An Aunt Again!

My sister in law, Leigh Anne, and brother in law, Fab, had their twin boys a few minutes ago!!

I am so excited to be an Aunt 7 times now! Especially since they live so close, (my other nephews and nieces live in other states), our boys will get to grow up with cousins as close friends! Oh the fun we will have; I just can't wait.

If Fab and Leigh Anne say it is OK, I'll put pictures up as soon as I get to see the little guys, but if not, then you'll just have to be satisfied with me gushing about how cute they are. I've already seen some pics thanks to technology, and trust me, they are CUTE.




Monday, November 9, 2009

Football Games

Having sons makes going to NC State football games all the more fun. JR is starting to get into it just like his big brother and there is nothing cuter than two little kids cheering. They make even losing a game fun.




This picture is from a few weeks ago, but we went to the game this past weekend and had a great time with our neighbors. 4 kids 4 and under at a football game might equal disaster and headache to some, but to Me, Sean and Caroline? A challenge! The kids actually did great the whole time, especially since Cole and Keeley had never been to a game. I'll get the photos off the camera at some point; they were all super cute in their Wolfpack gear.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

In The Quiet

Garner has a new park, and it is SO COOL. The one of the playgrounds looks like it was made out of tree logs and the other one has the NEATEST balance, climbing, and spinning toys. Super fun! There are great walking trails and fun classes in the nature center, too. I'm excited for some of those to start and I am hoping Garner has some Winter kid classes coming soon; I'd love to get Little Dude involved in some kind of activity without spending a lot of money.

The weather has been so lovely, so we have been spending tons of time outside, just playing and having fun. Being outside has been great for keeping the house clean, too.

I think one of the hardest parts of being a "single mom", while Bill is working in AL still, is keeping up with everything. The kids, my job, inside house cleaning, outside house cleaning, oh my goodness! So much to do and just never ever enough time.

And at times, I find myself just wanting to sit in the quiet and not do anything, though that only gets me more behind.



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Photos

Thomas the Tank Engine and a Lovely Rainbow helped pass out candy.
Mickey Mouse was armed and ready to get candy.
Snow White and her Hockey Player
A lovely fairy and Mr Gilly, the trash man, checked each other out.






Monday, November 2, 2009

Shopping Therapy

Sometimes it is nice to get away from the family. Two weeks of just me and the kids lead to me really wishing for some ME time once Bill got here and my sweet husband was amazing and said I could go do some "shopping therapy".

So, with my super sweet shopping master (and fellow mom), Andrea in tow, we hit up Crabtree Valley Mall this past Saturday, before we needed to be back home for Halloween fun.


*Warning, shopping recap below; skip if you find that stuff boring*


And OH was shopping with her fun! Mostly we window browsed and ooh and ahhed over the way-too-expensive-for-us jewelry at Belk. Seriously, I really liked a big ring I saw, but was thinking it would be a fun thing to wear around the house, with my Halloween costume, or just when I felt like adding sparkle to a boring mom outfit.I really had thought it would be $5 dollars, tops, since it was just out on a hanging rack. Oh no, make that more like $100.00-whoa. I quickly put it back before I could break it....

We did splurge and get ourselves some perfume. I so rarely wear perfume (I'm really lucky if I have time for makeup now, let alone perfume) BUT this D&G perfume smelled so amazing and the rep for the company was there giving tons of it away if you bought one bottle of the new scent, so I did.

And all the perfume from D&G can be mixed and layered to create new scents-oooohhhh I have been having fun with that!

Though I have to admit, I had thought I was getting large bottles of all the scents, but instead it was one large bottle of the new one, then a TON of half ounce sizes of the other 5 scents-but for the price I should have known better, we really paid a cheap price for the ton of perfume we got. I think all together I ended up with 3 oz each of the other scents, plus my huge bottle, plus two more huge bottles of other scents, PLUS matching lotions-so I am super happy!

AND I got all the other D&G perfumes and lotions for free. (Light Blue? I dunno, Andrea is my perfume/makeup/shopping Sensai and she was going crazy over what a great deal it was, so I went with her judgment).

*Shopping story over*

Anyways, that was SO FUN to get some girl time, chat about everything and anything (and mostly NOT talk about kid stuff) and on top of it, now I smell SO GOOD!

Halloween was A BLAST-the kids had so much fun and we had a great time over at the neighbor's drinking wine while the kids played. Little Dude was SO cute as a trash man and scored some great candy for us, er, him. Beth and Emily came over, too and Emily was the loveliest fairy ever. My sister was a rainbow and her friend, Ed, was Thomas the Tank Engine (he did that since Little Dude and JR both love Thomas-amazing guy, eh?) Ed was so great with the kids. He and Lisa passed out candy while the rest of us did our trick or treating; then they headed off to another friend's party.

Alright, I must go, this is getting way too long; photos will come tomorrow.