Thursday, March 24, 2011

Being Thrifty in the Home

So lately I have been asked "how are you going to survive on just Kris' salary?"  I know, he is a teacher and we all know that teachers are underpaid, and my accounting career was far more lucrative than his.  However, staying home with my kids was of utmost importance to me, so I took a look at our finances and figured out how to make more of our expendable cash.  Here's what I came up with!

While grocery shopping the other day, I took a stroll down the cleaning isle.  I am a clean freak and like things sanitized and clean.  Now clutter is another story...clutter happens in my house and I can't seem to get my hands around that, but I do know that everything is sanitized and clean!  With me being so type A about this subject, I obviously invest in wonderful yet expensive cleaning products.  One of my ultimate favorites is Soft Scrub.  I can use this everywhere, in the kitchen, bathrooms, baseboards, outdoors, car tires, etc....however, Soft Scrub is expensive!  Another one of my addictions is Lysol antibacterial wipes.  Again, I can use these everywhere, but they are very expensive.  Also, I love to "go green" where I can, and we all know that most "green" products are more expensive than the non green ones.  When totaling up all the cleaning products that I use monthly, I spend close to $40!  To some $40 is a toss in the bucket.  But to me, now living on my husband's teacher salary, $40 is a month worth of formula for my kids.  So this made me reconsider other options.

My grandmother is a very smart woman!  When she was here for the birth of the twins, she let me in on a secret.  A vinegar secret!  She diluted vinegar with water to make a cleaning agent for my windows and mirrors.  Let me tell you, this works better than any Windex product made!!!  No streaks and absolute shine!!!  So it got me wondering, what else can vinegar do?  I did some vinegar research and learned that vinegar is actually a natural disinfectant.  Yes, I said natural...meaning GREEN!  This is the cheapest "green" cleaner I have encountered.  It is $1.00 at most stores and diluted down with water, this bottle lasts me 3-6 months!  When mixed with bleach, vinegar turns into a super antibacterial fighter.  It is the perfect way to disinfect my kitchen yet clean my wooden chopping boards.  It is also safe for the kids!  I mop with it, clean toilets, mirrors, windows, countertops, baseboards, door knobs, the fridge, stovetop, etc.  This is the best thing since sliced bread.  I think I just eliminated or seriously squashed my $40 monthly expense on cleaning products!!!!  Want more proof...check out  Another great website which explains many uses for vinegar is

Now we all know that there are certain expenses that cannot be eliminated, such as groceries, laundry detergent, dish washing soap and so forth.  For these items, I use  This is an awesome website where deals are shown when coupled with coupons.  There are also links on her website to print coupons to your printer.  I saved $150 last month while grocery shopping for all the regular items that I normally buy.  $150 is an electricity bill, half a car payment, a cell phone bill, another 2 months of formula or groceries!!!!

When thinking back to my childhood, my mom stayed home with us.  I loved having her pick me up from school and coming home to help her cook dinner.  I never remember going to get a mother daughter mani/pedi, or going to the mall...but I do remember the sweet time I spent with her in the home and around the home.  Today's woman has become super charged with a career and a "do it all" mentality.  There is nothing wrong with this - I used to be the same way before children entered my life.  But, with kids in the picture, the "do it all" superwoman mentality that I was living sure did place a huge sacrifice on time with my kids.  I had to line up my priorities and sacrifice other things rather than time with my kids.  I had to sacrifice financially.  I gave up a car (yes we went down to 1 car for the family), I gave up a well paid career, I gave up name brand items for store or generic brands, I gave up my monthly mani/pedi's and getting my hair done, and I gave up my shopping addiction.  I never realized how many things I used to spend money on that didn't add any value to my life.  I just bought things to "have" them.  Well, all these "things" are getting ready for a yard sale and I am purging my life of the excess to fill up my life with the abundance of time for my family!  No more take out meals, no more rushing around, no more stressed out mom/wife.  I am going "old school" and doing it grandma style!  Her generation had it right!!!

To answer the question that I have been getting lately, "how are you going to survive on Kris' salary?", my answer is simple....I'm simplifying my life and frugalizing (one of my own word creations) my expenses.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Conversation with my Mother

It is March!  I cannot believe that the time has flown by and we are creeping up on spring.  As a child I used to love the spring time.  I think there was something about the smell in the air, the feeling of being outside and playing in the sun, or maybe it was that I really looked forward to my favorite holiday, Easter.  Spring time always brings me back to the happiness of my childhood.

However, spring time has a new memory for me.  One that is not so nostalgic and happy.  Rather than looking forward to Spring, I actually have grown to dread it.  On March 26th it will be 4 years since the tragic murder of my mother.  To some, 4 years may seem like a long time.  To me, 4 years seems like yesterday.  While I have healed from the event and have dealt with most of the pain inflicted from this tragedy, there is a small piece that I haven't been able to deal with.  I suppose complete healing takes time, which is why 4 years doesn't seem that long to me.

Now, when the weather starts to change to Spring and the flower blossoms put forth that wonderful aroma into the air, my mind is taken back in time to 4 years ago when my life got flipped upside down.  I try to talk to my mother as if she were still here, and I recall special moments that her and I shared, but I don't think I have ever really told her all that I have been longing to tell her.  And this change of weather sure has pulled at my heart to tell her.  Sometimes I feel silly talking out loud to her.  It feels as if I am talking to myself.  I decided that on the eve of the 4 year anniversary of her passing, that I would write a letter.


Have I ever told you how beautiful I think you were?  My home is now surrounded by pictures of you and everyday I pass by your smiling face.  When I see those pictures I think to myself, wow I had a beautiful mother.  Mom, you weren't just beautiful on the outside though, you really had a heart of gold.  It pains me that it took me this long to see that.  It reveals my shortcomings as a daughter that I could not spend more happy times with you and enjoy your company, but rather I chose to spend most of our time together butting heads with you.  I suppose this is typical mother-daughter relationship behavior.  But I know that you were longing for a relationship with me just as much as I was with you.  I see now the kind of person that you were, and I so desperately miss that in my life.

I feel like I am floundering around now, without a motherly voice to help guide me through the obstacles of life.  I need you here now more than I ever did before.  But I look at your smiling face hanging on my wall and can hear your voice telling me all your silly little phrases.  "They can't take your birthday away Sissy."  "It is what it is Sis, just keep going on."  "Wow you got a two-fer."  And so on...  It makes me feel better knowing that I can still recall the sound of your voice.  I was worried I would forget it.

I hope you were looking down on the birth of your grandchildren.  It was quite a day!  When I saw Kaitlyn for the first time, I saw your face!  Isn't that weird?!?!  She doesn't act anything like you though, she is much more temperamental like me.  Knox has your demeanor.  He is just a happy baby that always smiles even when he is filling up his britches.  I wish you could hold them and help me take care of them.  I know you would love it.  I can picture you holding two babies at one time with your face lit up like a Christmas tree.  I hope that you can see them now, and I hope that you can watch over them for me whenever I can't.  I guess that is the good thing about you not being on this earth anymore.  You can watch from above now!

Sometimes I see angels surrounding me.  I get glimmers of light and translucent images that pass by me.  I hope they are you! 

Mom, I want you to know that you did not deserve the kind of death that you experienced.  Nobody deserves that!  I am sure you know, but I did everything in my power to find you as quickly as I could.  I want you to know that I made it a goal that you were honored in a manner that you would find pleasing.  I also know that you would want me to make peace with dad because that is the kind of person that you are.  You wouldn't want me to live a life full of anger and hatred.  I have forgiven him and made peace with him, but will never have a relationship with him.  He is serving his time here on earth for what he inflicted on you.

As this 4th year anniversary of your passing quickly approaches I realize that my life has changed a lot in 4 years.  I found my prince charming, married him, and had twins.  This is a lot of change and I begin to realize that life has moved on, even though I feel like I am stuck in a time warp.  I miss you mom.  I miss our long talks on the phone.  I miss your encouragement and support.  I miss your positive attitude and smiling face and your ability to make everything feel better when you are around.  I miss the bad times too, strangely enough!  But I really miss having you here!  I am sure things are much better where you are now and I can't wait to see you again!

Love your daughter!