It’s Just Not Possible!

It’s funny how many times I’ve heard, “It’s just not possible”.  When people are trying to cut costs, when they have too much to do, when they have no time, no energy, or maybe when they’re just in a bad situation.  They say, “it’s just not possible to fix”.  It’s an easy thing to say.  When it was more than just me some people said to stick it out with where I was….to do it alone was just unfeasible. And after, many people have even said to me that it is impossible for a single mom to be the sole provider for three little people. Some people have said it as a compliment, however, others have this look in their eye like I must sell drugs on the side  (I blame Weeds…love that series) or have an inheritance of some kind if I wanted to survive.  I assure you I do not. I just work hard. All. The. Time.

lol. Okay, not all the time. I’m totally lying.  I take Saturdays to do fun stuff with my kids and even some weeknights! We go to the park, we do Twister, they love to Slip N Slide, we play Jenga, whatever makes these kids smile.  This weekend we’re having our first sleepover. Yeah, that’s right.  I’m inviting more kids over to my house. And I will be giving them popcorn. OMG. And if I feel really brazen, I’ll give those young ladies Play-doh and finger paints to get all over as well. That’s just my personality….GO BIG OR GO HOME!!

first jenga
Cici contemplating

Seriously, though, at one point in my life 8pm would be when I’d be getting ready to go out, socialize, and see the world.  Tonight, I’m utterly exhausted and multitasking: folding laundry, making dinner, watching the news, helping the girls bathe, playing Swagbucks videos on my laptop while my phone plays Perk TV, and most likely I will literally pass out while doing these things. No, really. It’s possible. It happens more than I’ll ever admit.

multitasking

These are the days of my life.  And you know what? I’m exceptionally happy about it. Crazy, right? Let me be clear, I am  extremely fortunate and I’m here to tell you anything is possible. I truly adore my girls. I think they are the best thing that has ever happened to me (actually I’m biased…I think they’re the best thing that’s happened to the world).

My girls make every early morning, every late night, every bill, every struggle easier.  It doesn’t matter what dark days are ahead or what days we’ve sustained…we’re family.  And these struggles have made us a stronger and more powerful. Charles Darwin was a dropout, Jim Carey was homeless, Van Gogh sold few paintings while he was alive, JK Rowling was a penniless mom before Harry Potter, Marilyn Monroe was told she wasn’t pretty enough to model nor talented enough to be an actress, and the list goes on and on. You have to push through the rough moments in time.  Don’t quit. Don’t say “It’s too hard” or “It’s not possible”. It’s sooooooo possible.  Everything we go through, every bad day, every obstacle is worth it.

I survived, I persevered, and I am motivated to do better every day not only for these little people that I love so much, but for me. To prove to the world that I am extraordinary. The things I’ve survived don’t define who I am, but how I deal with them does.  That’s what I want my daughters to see and learn.

true strength

I wasn’t always so severe in cost cutting and family, but if I had been more diligent with my budget and my priorities before I wouldn’t have had to be so extreme now.  I got lazy. I got comfortable. I wasn’t challenged.  So to those of you going through hard times or difficult situations, please know that it’s not impossible. Just realize the opportunity for a better life is there, you just have to be willing to make some changes, step it up, believe in yourself, keep pressing forward, and don’t forget to have a little fun. Life is short and time flies.

mustache you
Mami mustache Milla a question

 

 

 

 

Naturally Disasterous

I’ve had a rare “opportunity” this week. We survived the great flood of 2016.

To begin, I do not live in a flood zone.  Wednesday I left work as normal and the flash flood hit.   The street my little people were on had already begun flooding so I parked down the  road and waded my way through the knee-deep water and pouring rain to them.  I thought the worst was over when we got back to the car and then to my surprise we pull into our subdivision and it was flooding as well!!  I backed up and went through a back road and safely made it into our garage.  We’ve had a couple of flash floods, but it never made it into our neighborhood.  I guess since we’ve been getting so much rain, there was no where for it to go and so it just began rising…and rising…and rising.

By Saturday, the sun came out and it seemed like the water must go down!  To our frustration it went up.  By now it was up to our garages and front doors, and for a couple of neighbors it was in their homes.  The initial flooding hit so fast that we weren’t able to leave to get sandbags or supplies.  We definitely did not expect it to continuously rise.

flooded Meadow Hill.png

So you ask, what was the “opportunity”?  There are so many I don’t know where to begin.

I met neighbors and saw our neighborhood rally together.  They helped me lift my fridge and deep freeze to put pavers and wood underneath, they helped me move furniture to my second floor, we all used sand from the girls sandbox to make quick sandbags for our garages, we watched each others kids so others could meet family and friends for supplies, we shared food and groceries and stories, we let our kids play together, and so much more.  I loved WHERE we lived before the flood, but now I love my community of neighbors. I don’t have enough words for all the nice things I’d like say and the generosity, civility, and concern  we were shown. Especially after all the negative things you  hear people say and do now, it’s nice to know the good people are out there. I only wish I would have made more of an effort before the flood to get to know their stories. This was a lesson to me to label less and communicate more.

sandbags
sandbox + walmart sacks = diy sandbags

My “noisy motorcycle” neighbor (you know you have nicknames for your neighbors too) ended up being the one who saved us.  Her boyfriend knew some people and was able to get an industrial pump brought in to drain the water.  We all pitched in for gas for the machine, but without her we wouldn’t have had it and the county was unconcerned with helping us.  She got it Saturday and the water immediately started to recede. Then we had another flash flood and the water just went up to where it was previously.  I have no doubt in my mind that it would have been in my home, A/C, etc if it wasn’t for her.  I love my “noisy motorcycle” neighbor now.  We went to thank her and it turns out she’s actually very sweet.  She just has a noisy hobby that as an exhausted mom I found frustrating some late nights.  However, never again! 🙂

My “angry, crabby old guy” neighbor helped dig a trench to release some of the water too.  Then afterwards he walked about a mile and a half to get more supplies and brought the girls back chocolates as well. “Angry, crabby old guy” neighbor is actually a lonely empty nester.  It ends up it was just him and his daughter for a long time, but then she went away to college about a year and a half ago out-of-state. So now it’s just him and his garden. :\ I’ll probably be the “angry, crabby old girl” when my kids go off to college too.  We’ll be taking him cookies and such more often.

Also, I realized how lucky I am to work where I do.  I love my job truly, but occasionally I wonder if I couldn’t be doing more with my life and my degree.  However, throughout this ordeal my coworkers and boss were constantly checking on us and helping me weigh pros and cons (my first flood so it was nice to have some feedback).  They sent over pizzas, drinks and formula for me Saturday when the water was at my front door.  People I only see from 8-5 waded through 4 blocks of water to get to my house just to drop off supplies.  That says a lot about the people I work with and company I work for. I’m forever grateful just for the sheer thoughtfulness.

Lastly, my home is ridiculously clean.  After moving all our furniture upstairs we were at a wait-and-see point. This gave me time to clean under and around everything. lol. Forget spring cleaning — I’ve got a full-on summer shine!  I had to go through all the boxes in the garage to get them out of there when the water was leaking in (thankfully diapers came in handy for keeping the water at bay).  I moved into this house when I was 3 months pregnant and had horrible morning sickness.  To say it was an unorganized and unmotivated move would be an understatement.  I finally feel like we are “moved in”.  It just took a flood to do it!

diapers.png
Diapers — more than one use

I could be a negative Nancy and focus on the bad stuff.  My backyard still has standing, stinky water, the mosquitos are going to be INSANE now, I missed a couple days of work, and Milla missed her last day of PreK.  However, my family is safe, my home is intact, I made some amazing new friends, and we know there is a drainage problem that we can fix before any potential hurricanes. All-in-all, it was a blessing in disguise and Milla didn’t seem too upset about missing school with all her friends and a creek in the front yard. Kids have a way of creating fun where adults can only see predicaments. We could probably all learn a little something from that. 🙂

kids play.png

 

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?