Shame On You!

Mom shaming: When you shame a mom on the Internet, at the school, at playdates, or anywhere for that matter. Anyone can be afflicted with this disease of the heart. It has been seen in mom’s and non-mom’s alike.

This “disease” takes on many different sizes, shapes and forms. I hear more and more people with a lack of understanding or knowledge of other parents’ circumstances, choices or decisions regarding their kid(s) and it seems to be contagious. Instead of being supportive they assume they know and comment negatively. Most of the carriers of mom shaming don’t have the ability to empathize with challenges of other parents, but have no problem telling them how they’re wrong and how they should be doing it or should have done it better. Remember, hindsight is 20/20.

I read this article today and, yeah, the mom was obviously having a rough day.  It was Mother’s Day, her kids were too young to do anything for her, she was single, and she was reading all these wonderful things wonderful husbands were doing for their wonderful mommy wives and she was upset/frustrated or whatever.  Is what it is, but what really got me were the comments.  It wasn’t hang in there it’ll get better, or “Happy Mothers Day” I’m sure your kids appreciate you more than you know, etc.  No, a lot of them were: You need therapy.  Your kids should be taken from you.  What kind of mother are you?  You don’t love your kids and it’s obvious. Your kids are going to grow up with problems because they can tell you don’t like them. Etc.  It just went on and on. I truly couldn’t believe it.

I think I’m a top-notch mom (big grin on my face and happy dancing…okay, maybe not happy dancing but feeling pretty sure of myself as I say this…okay, maybe not sure of myself, but a little sure….), but I have had some bad days.  Here are some prime Mom Shaming opportunities.

  1. I’ve had to rush my daughter to the ER before.  —-  Milla drank the children’s Advil I left on the table while getting her some water. I was SURE  this was going to put her into a coma and they may need to pump her stomach. I measured it quickly and arrived at ER telling them she had 3-4 tablespoons and they laughed and said she’d sleep good after checking her out. :\   Still feel guilty about it though.
  2. I lost my daughter in a McDonald’s playhouse and called the police.  — I was sure some pedophile had stolen my beautiful, little princess and I had every episode of Law and Order SVU running through my mind.  Cici was hiding under the slide the whole time. I was up the playhouse, all around it, questioning parents and generally in a paranoid frenzy.  Cici thought it was hilarious.  We found her when she started uncontrollably giggling. Yep…I never went back to that McDonald’s.  I mean, how could they leave that space under the slide that she could fit in? lol. j/k.  My fault.  No more hide and seek with the kids.  They’re getting too good at it.
  3. My daughter has pooped in an aisle at Party City. — Yes, that’s right. Pooped. Full on blowout.  Cici was looking at Little Mermaid party gifts next to me when she tooted and I was like, “geez sister, peeyoo”.  However, when I looked at her she had deer and headlight eyes and then I saw it running out her pant leg. O.M.G. . Me scooping her up, “Me: Cici where is your PullUp? Cici: On Ellie (her baby doll) at home.”  Can you say MORTIFIED? Disgusted? Gagging?

I can only imagine what the other parents at the ER, McDonald’s, and Party City were thinking. AND, these are just three examples that immediately come to mind. This doesn’t include Milla’s corn starch snow angels in the kitchen, Cici’s injured mouse friend (EEK), or a multitude of others.  Kids are kids, parents are human.  Some of these things are ridiculously funny to look back on, some of them were learning opportunities for them (reviewing stranger danger and why not to hide from mommy) or for me (the lid on everything should always be on tight and up high even if they’re sick for their safety-Advil or my sanity-Cornstarch). Granted, there are exceptions to every rule and you can argue the gray areas.  But most of the stuff I hear isn’t gray area it’s just straight mean — so let’s review some basic human principles:

  1. No one is perfect. Not you, not her, not him, not the President, not anyone.
  2. Venting is a release of built up emotions. I might feel overwhelmed and say “I need a vacation”, but I personally can’t be away from my kids for much time before I’m calling/texting/ready to get back to them.
  3. Just because someone is having a bad day, doesn’t mean they’re a bad parent.
  4. Your way of parenting is not better than their way of parenting.  It’s just different.
  5. Being a parent has ups and downs.  Things will get better, then they might get worse, then better, rinse, repeat. So lend an ear, or a hand, and be supportive of others.

I realize it’s a day and age of reality TV: Kardashians, Dance Moms, Teen Moms, Real Housewives, etc.  It’s a digital age where we are fed the lives of others and expected to have an opinion on it.  However, try to realize being a parent isn’t a reality show.  Being a parent is caring for and loving a little person so much you would do anything for them. REAL parents are constantly trying to improve, do the best, and be the best for their little people.  This life is better than reality TV because it’s REAL–unedited, unreviewed, moment by moment living.  Embrace it, enjoy it, and learn from it because none of us are perfect and so many of us are truly, desperately trying our best.

 

Digit-ize Your Savings

“If you don’t fail it’s because you did not risk enough, and if you didn’t risk enough it’s because you didn’t put your whole self out there.” –Carlos Barrabes

This week I’m trying out Digit. I found out about it after reading a ridiculous blog.  This lady proclaimed she paid off her student loans in two years.  I was hooked…or shall I say baited.  It ends up she’s single with no kids and made about $5000/month in discretionary money. Guess what? I could pay off all my house and student loans if I had an EXTRA $5,000 per month.  smh. What’s wrong with people?

This leads me to a little rant.  Most self-help money books are common sense.  Save more, spend less, don’t over extend.  I actually get frustrated reading them. I won’t buy them, I check them out at the library and see if there are any actually new ideas in them.  I don’t need you to tell me I should pay down the highest rate credit card first (simple math, right?).  I need to know where to FIND money where there is none.  I need to know how to get stuff for free so I can have extra money to increase my emergency fund. It bothers me that our education system doesn’t include budgeting/money management class in high school.  People shouldn’t be able to make millions off of people because they don’t know how to budget. If you need help/ideas about budgeting use the web and your local library…don’t line the pockets of other people. It’s counter productive.  Mic down.

 So my emergency fund is a priority to me because there are a lot of layoffs going on in Houston this year. Digit is a new micro-savings account that helps you save small bits of money over time. You won’t get rich off the money you save, but it does initiate that first step toward creating a savings habit.

I’ve used it for about a week and it takes out between $2-6 every couple of days. I thought I would REALLY notice any money out of my account because I’m such a penny pincher.  However, it really hasn’t bothered my budget.  I think it’s because I generally leave about $25-50 in my budget every month as a cushion in case things are more than I expect. Digit is a smart little cookie and grabs from my cushion.  I have to say I was hesitant to try this, but I’m so glad I did.  I already have automatic savings in my budget every month, but this just adds a little more to my emergency fund and I really enjoy the little conversations I get.  Here’s an example:

digit awesome

Every 2 or 3 days, Digit transfers some money from a checking account to a secure Digit account. Digit analyzes checking balance, upcoming income, upcoming bills and recent spending patterns and finds a nonessential amount you won’t notice based on how you’ve been spending. There is never a transfer of more than you can afford, and there is a no-overdraft guarantee.

Digit does not have plans to charge a fee for their service, so I expect it will remain free in the future. It’s not a service that’s going to make you rich, but it does help you stash away the extra money you won’t miss. Digit makes money by earning interest on the money you save, and pay out only a small portion to you.  Any dollar you save with Digit and leave in your account for three months will earn you a 0.05% return of your cash. Each week, Digit will analyze your account and add up any savings you’ve not touched for three months, and then reward you with 5 cents for every $100.

I’m glad I tried it and I’m going to stick with it.  Do you have any savings ideas? Have you tried Digit?

Hollar!

As a single working mom, I truly love Amazon. However, with Prime membership going up and their customer service lagging (it’s an enormous company now) I have a new love affair going with Hollar.com.  It is an American-based retailer that offers items that are constantly changing and have “dollar store” pricing. It emphasizes women’s items, health & beauty aids, school supplies, toys, kitchen items, cell phone accessories and more.

Some reasons I love this company:

1. It’s all $5 or less

All items are only $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5! However, you must have at least $10.00 worth of items in your cart in order to check out.  I just bought a cell phone case for $4, Screen protector for $2, Charger for $1, shopkins for $3 (my daughter is obsessed), and Disney’s Inside Out for $5.

hollar shopkins

2. Name brand items

Hollar.com has name-brand merchandise from party supplies and toys from kids’ favorite characters such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shopkins, Minecraft, and Melissa & Doug; makeup from drugstore brands like Revlon, Maybelline, Almay; plus food, grocery, and cleaning supplies from well-known consumer brands, among other things.

3. Free Shipping on over $25

Hollar offers first time customers  free shipping on their first order, and provides complimentary shipping on all subsequent orders $25 or more.

4. AMAZING Customer Service

I reached out today because they sent me a new customer coupon that was good for 24 hours for 30% off.  However, when I checked out it said my coupon was invalid.  I forwarded the original email they sent me with my order number asking why the coupon was invalid and they responded in under 2 hours and refunded me the 30% off from my order. All I can say is “Wow”!

If you haven’t checked this site out I highly recommend it!

What items have you picked up at Hollar.com?

Sam’s Club Members – Free $10 gift card

If you are currently a Sam’s Club member be sure to sign up for their new Mom’s and Dad’s Club here.  I didn’t receive the initial email (some have said this is invitation only), however, when I signed up it gave me a confirmation email saying my eGift card was on the way (see below).

Mom and Dads club

I can’t validate that this works because they don’t send out the eGifts until May 30th and the sign up period will be over at that time, but if you don’t sign up you won’t know!  Only takes about 10 seconds!  According to the website, Mom’s and Dad’s Club will have special offers, free samples, and travel giveaways and you’ll receive a Sam’s Club $10 eGift card for enrolling.

Per the website, “Enroll in Sam’s Club® Mom’s and Dad’s Club with a valid email address matching the email address registered on SamsClub.com by May 30 to receive a $10 eGift Card. eGift Card will be provided by email between May 30 and June 15 to the email address used to register your Sam’s Club Membership on SamsClub.com matching Mom’s and Dad’s Club registration. Offer only available to the Sam’s Club Member associated with the original email address for this advertisement.”

Please note: Only one eGift Card per membership. eGift Card may not be used to pay for membership fee, travel purchases, or select services and can only be used online at SamsClub.com Offer not valid in Puerto Rico.

 

 

Free Money!!

I truly LOVE free — especially free money.  Here’s how to get yours:

1. Click here to open a NetSpend account for free and use the referral code “7413420433” in order to get the $20 bonus.

2. You will receive your NetSpend Visa Debit card within two weeks.

3. Once received, login to NetSpend and activate it.

4. In order to get the FREE $20, you’ll need to load the card with a minimum of $40.00 using PayPal, a bank account or one of the other many options. I used the “free instant bank transfer” via PayPal because there were no fees associated with that method of deposit.

5. Once you load the $40, NetSpend will add $20 to your balance.

6. I then used my card as a $59 purchase to reload my Amazon gift card (since there was a $1 processing charge for credit, $2 processing charge for pin, and $2.50+ for ATM).  You can use it for groceries, gift cards or however you see fit, HOWEVER, remember to account for the fees for the method you use.

Here’s my transaction history so you can see everything. The same day my Paypal deposit went through I received my $20 reward.  I then reloaded my Amazon gift card with the $59 and NetSpend charged me the $1 signature purchase fee.  All-in-all for about 20 minutes of work I received $19 free! 🙂

Netspend

The lag in dates is my fault.  I got busy with work and forgot to verify the deposits. :/  However, once I verified it only took about two days for Paypal to transfer my initial $40.

*At the moment this is ONLY for United States residents and this is only for new accounts.  So if you’ve signed up for Netspend before, please make sure you pass this on to others so they can at least get their free money!

For questions about usage fees and other items, go here.

How are you going to use your free money?

Fri(YAY!) Try Day: Foot Peel

Let’s talk feet. You might find this gross, weird, disturbing, however, it’s AWE-mazing. You see we are counting down the days (43) until our toes are in the sand for our annual Florida trip and, unfortunately, my feet and legs are overworked and you could see it in my soles. Reviewers said I could get my haven’t-seen-a-pedicure-in-a-couple-of-years feet ready for the beach in no time  with The Face Shop Smile Foot Peeling Mask . Ok. They didn’t say that per-se, but that’s how it rolled around in my head.  Since it cost less than $8 I figured why not.

The steps are simple enough. Wash and soak your feet,  put on the booties, pour in the solution, and tie them up at the ankles and wait. While you’ll be able to maneuver around with the socks on, I recommend taking a breather and just relaxing during the treatment. I waited until the girls were asleep, sat in my comfy chair and streamed a few episodes of Game of Thrones. After 90-minutes into Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, I simply removed and discarded the socks and rinsed my feet with warm water.

The thing is that the peeling doesn’t happen right way. It took a full week before my skin started to fall away…and then it REALLY came off.  Lots of dead skin was *shudder* all over my sheets. After that, I tried to wear socks as much as possible as the shedding continued to resemble snakeskin. EEK. If you’re going to do this, try to avoid any and all barefoot activities during the peeling phase. Just wear socks. Always. To everything. Everywhere. Trust me.

After this hideous peeling phase and about 10 days post mask, I had a beautiful set of crack free feet! All callouses and rough skin were magically gone and my feet feel and look softer than they have in ages.  Alas, despite the snakelike sloughing…I loved this product and I love my feet again. 🙂  You just can’t beat that for $8.

How to Pay Less for Rx

I have to be honest, I never really thought about price checking prescriptions.  If my daughters get sick I either send it to pharmacy near my work or near my home out of convenience.  In my naive mind I just assumed all prescriptions would more or less cost the same across the board. Yeah, I was wrong.  I did a search on a couple of prescriptions I’ve filled in the last year on rxpricequotes.com and found there was always a price difference ranging from a mere $2 to a whopping $50 difference just on the prescriptions I’ve used this year!  And we’re a fairly healthy family.  Exact same dosage – exact same prescription – completely different prices.  Here’s an example for Ibuprofen 800 near my job:

rx compare

This tool will even show you the generic costs on name brands (Alternate drug category is the generic version):

rx compare2

Since Sam’s Club always came out cheaper on the four I searched I wondered, “What about non-members?”   Surprisingly, I found out that you don’t need a membership to use Sam’s Club pharmacy.  You can show your prescription to the checker at the entrance (or just tell them you’re going to the pharmacy) and you’re in. Note: Without a Sam’s Club membership, you can only use the pharmacy – no other purchases allowed.

In addition, if you are a Sam’s Plus™ Member and live in certain states you can receive five select prescriptions for free, for more details go here.

  • Donepezil: 30-day supply for Alzheimer’s Disease (generic Aricept 2 strengths)
  • Escitalopram: 30-day supply for Mental Health (generic Lexapro 3 strengths)
  • Pioglitazone: 30-day supply for Diabetes (generic Actos 3 strengths)
  • Vitamin D 50,000 IU: 4 caps for Bone Density
  • Finasteride: 30-day supply for Men’s Health (generic Proscar 1 strength)

My father also reminded me to ask my doctor about pill splitting for any longer term prescriptions. What is this “pill splitting”? Sometimes you can buy a double dosage pill that can be sliced in half. For example, instead of 60 days of a 50mg pill you buy a 30 day supply of a 100mg pill and split it in half.  Voila! You have 60 days worth of 50mg. This can potentially save you a lot of money. Of course, some pills aren’t suitable for splitting such as time-release or coated capsules. Oh the logic of it all!  Why didn’t I think of this??

Also, I found this site that has coupons and rebates for different medications (both prescription and OTC’s such as Aleve and Allegra).  I always go here if I or the kids need any OTC medications just for the coupons.

Hope this enlightens you as much as it did me!

 

 

Let’s Get Real

Life isn’t easy. To be responsible for the livelihood and molding of another person? Shitz hard!

Today I started out at 3:30am, did some laundry and dishes, woke the baby at 4am for breakfast, worked out, then woke the girls at 5am for their breakfast, and then our day was up and running.  By 8am severe migraine – possible dehydration.  Two meetings and two Gatorade’s later feeling a little more useful.  Then the apocalyptic call – I don’t want to babysit your infant anymore.  It’s only noon. Dammitalltohell.

A quick rescheduling of meetings and a call to the boss and I’m off.  Picking up Baby J on the way to picking up Milla to drop her at school during my lunch break (she’s a half day preK kid).  I stop at three places nearby our home to request prices…totally out of our budget.  I hit up Craigslist and schedule a couple of interviews.  A few drive-bys (too scary to even stop) and a couple of interviews later and I think we have a winner.  She’s new to Houston, has a few respectful and sweet kids, lives in a gated community. She gives me a copy of her license and a background check later she’s tentatively hired for a trial week.

Let’s get real.  If you had a big bag full of gold you wouldn’t just drop it off at a strangers house and expect to pick it up later.  That’s what I feel when I drop my kids off.  I’m trusting someone whom is practically a stranger with one of my most priceless possessions!  I would literally kill for my kids.  I love them more than I’ve ever loved anything in my entire life.  I pay more than 1/2 my pay every month to people to care for these little people that I would personally pay just to spend more time with. Truth talk. I’m jealous of SAHMs.

Being a single parent isn’t easy.  It’s extremely difficult.  I do what I do to the best of my ability so that I may give my wonderful little people the life they deserve.  It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s a lot of fun; but it’s ALWAYS a lot of work.  Most days I feel extremely blessed and lucky to have these three beautiful little creatures that cuddle and look up to me.  However days like today are hard.  They make you shed a few tears, ask God why, and then you strum up the courage to say “Okay, I got this”.  There’s a quote by Mae West that comes to mind, “I never said it’d be easy, I said it’d be worth it.”

It’s not easy, but it’s totally worth it. Baby J cheering me on at the computer as we search for a new babysitter. Who can resist those eyes!!??

IMG_2994

How to Protect Against Sex Offenders

After listening to KRBE’s discussion on sex offenders on my way in to work I did a little research and read some of the below statistics on Family Watchdog:

•  60% of abusers are family friends (babysitters, neighbors, or friends of the family)
•  30% of abusers are their own family.
•  And 10% are strangers. -Most people think it is just strangers you have to watch out for, but 90% of abusers are people the victim knows.
•  Not all perpetrators are adults. It is an estimated 23% of abusers are under the age of 18.
•  Absence of one or both parents is a risk factor (Some research found that children living with only one biological parent at twice the risk of sexual victimization)

I decided to do a check of my new neighborhood and had a small heart attack when I saw an address a few houses down from us.  Just a reminder to always keep an eye on your children as you never know who or where the “bad” people could be.  How many times have you heard of someone getting arrested for something horrible and their family and neighbors all saying how wonderful they are?  Unfortunately, you just never know what goes on behind closed doors.  The nice, rich woman down the street could be your biggest threat and the cranky, old guy across the street could be one of your children’s greatest protectors and your second set of eyes.

I want to take this opportunity to urge you to empower your children to say “no” to unwanted touch and teach them that they can come to you with questions and concerns.  Doing this is a critical step to preventing your child from being sexual abused. Here are some things I do:

  • Teach children the names of their body parts so that they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.
  • Teach them that some parts of their bodies are private.
    • Let them know that other people should not be touching or looking at their private parts unless they need to touch them to provide care.
    • Tell them that if someone tries to touch those private areas or wants to look at them OR if someone tries to show them his or her own private parts, they should tell you ASAP.
  • Teach them boundaries and that it’s okay to say “no” to touches that make him or her uncomfortable or scared.
    • Assure your kids that it is okay to get help, even if someone he or she cares about might be upset or embarrassed.
  • Teach your child that these topics do not need to be “secret.” Abusers will sometimes tell a child that the abuse should be kept a secret. Let your child know that if someone is touching him or her or talking to him or her in ways that make him or her uncomfortable or scared, that it should not stay a secret.
    • Abusers rely on the child’s likelihood of not telling an adult.
    • Assure your child that he or she will not get into trouble if he or she tells you this kind of secret.

As you talk to your child about these items, remember to focus on creating a safe zone. Hopefully, they don’t tell you about sexual abuse at the time of the conversation and you are just laying a foundation for future questions or concerns. Also, take a moment to do a sex offender search and read why they are on the list (this is important as not all offensives are alike).  Please remember that these are only the registered offenders that were caught and realize how many are out there that haven’t been.  Our children are our greatest asset and it’s our job to look after them and keep them safe.

If you live in Texas, you can check your zip code here.

If you live in Missouri, you can check your address here.

If you live in Florida, you can check your address here.

If you reside in a state that isn’t listed above, go here.

 

How to Get Paid to Lose Weight!

If you’re not feeling very motivated to lose those extra pounds,  here’s a nice little incentive that might help change your mind: cold hard cash.  I don’t know about you, but the frugalista in me is definitely motivated by that.

There are two sites I have personally used and love: DietBet and HealthyWage.  I used DietBet monthly to lose the baby weight after Cici and I’m at it again to lose it again from Baby J.  I’ve just completed my first round and am happy to say, I WON!

DietBet

When you sign up at DietBet, you can create your own game or join one that’s already in progress. I personally always join one, but that’s just my preference. Also, DB offers two different types of games: lose 4% of your body weight in four weeks or The Transformer for losing 10% of your body weight in six months.  Note that you can do these consecutively as well.

So how does it work you say?  You pick a game  that suits your budget (bets can range from $10-$500) and put in your deposit and weigh-in.  In 30 days (or 6 months if playing the 10% Transformer) everyone submits their final weight and the winners split the pot evenly. Payouts are made via Paypal a few days after verification. For example, the last time I won I had deposited $25 and received back $48.33 (my $25 deposit and $23.33 in winnings from the pot).  I chose to reinvest it into another DietBet game until I reached my goal weight, but you can cash out if you’d like as well.

I’m currently signed up for Shape Up for Summer with Heidi & Chris Powell with a $30 deposit, $151,980 in the pot, and 5,066 players as of May17. Wish me luck!

HealthyWage

Healthy Wage is for more significant weight loss. You can set it for 10-150 lbs to lose, over 6-18 months, for anywhere from $20-$500 bet per month.  It has a handy online calculator which allows you to determine roughly what your payout will be.  In most cases, the prize won’t be less than $100.

Healthywage

If you want to do a Healthy Wage team challenge, you will have to put up the entry fee which is currently $25 per month for up to three months. The team challenges advertise much larger payouts — up to $10,000. However, this top dollar prize is if your team is the most successful and has a higher percentage of weight lost than any other teams participating.

These programs and their apps work for me because I’m motivated in three ways:
1. I want to lose weight and be healthy
2. I do not want to lose my deposit
3. I love to get paid

Have you tried either of these?  What incentives do you need/use to get in shape?

For more information, you can check out this excerpt from Good Morning America: