Archive for February, 2013

February 19, 2013

Stoic

by Decemberbaby

Apparently I’m stoic.

We went to the doctor today for R’s well-baby checkup. Incidentally, she’s still able to fit into her infant (bucket) carseat at 9.5 kilos and 80 centimetres. Anyhow, so the doctor is examining her, and I hear,

“Oh! Oh my!”

Apparently R has a raging ear infection. We had absolutely no idea. Her behaviour has been normal, she’s been eating like a horse, and the only clue that anything is different is that she napped for 2 hours yesterday instead of her usual 45 minutes. Nevertheless, the eardrum is red and bulging and really gross looking.

“Looks like she inherited her mummy’s stoicism!” The doctor opined.

“Stoicism?” I said, “Whatever do you mean?”

“Open your mouth.” She ordered. Then she looked at my throat, pointed out that I’m incubating a couple of nice white patches on my right tonsil, and prescribed antibiotics for my strep throat. I had strep throat… who knew?

Sure, I haven’t been feeling fabulous, and yeah, I almost fainted yesterday evening, but I just assumed I was tired from too many late nights. Okay, I also had a stabbing pain in my throat. But only in one spot, and only when I yawned.

I guess you could call me stoic. I prefer “blissfully unaware” and “willing to soldier on.” Stay-at-home-moms don’t get sick days, after all. I often find myself thinking, “Okay, I’m good to collapse and fall asleep after I’ve put away the leftovers and helped K pack her lunch. Ooh, dizzy. I’d better just slide my butt down to the floor now…”

Having said that, I just realized that K’s lunch is packed and the leftovers have been put away. Methinks it’s time for bed. Also antibiotics. Good night.

Advertisements
February 11, 2013

Does this mustache make me look cheap?

by Decemberbaby

Mr. December just turned me on to a blog that I’m now devouring religiously: Mr. Money Mustache. His basic premise is that you can retire early (possibly even VERY early) by cutting your spending drastically and saving most of your income. Sure, lots of people have written about extreme cheapness as a means to financial independence, but Mr. Money Mustache does it without hampering his quality of life: he still eats meat, fresh produce, etc, still has home internet and a phone, still owns a car… he just does it a bit differently.

So, after a year of near-record spending (for us,) we’ve decided to grow a money mustache of our own. We don’t have particularly expensive tastes, but reading MMM has opened our eyes to the fact that you can almost always do the exact same thing for less money.

Take groceries, for example. When K was born (in the dead of winter) I used grocery gateway for a while. Very convenient, and very expensive. I finally started making the effort to drive to Fortino’s, which cut about $30 off my weekly grocery bill. You can imagine how self-congratulatory I was about that. Then Mr. December went on paternity leave, which left us with a seriously reduced income, and he convinced me to try No Frills (think Costco, but with smaller packages.) The exact same groceries at No Frills still added up to less than they had at Fortino’s. Our new resolution was to only do our grocery shopping at No Frills. Savings (over the original, inflated grocery gateway bill): $40 a week. That’s big.

kosher grocery flyer

But wait, there’s more! A few months ago someone clued me in to the fact that No Frills will match any advertised price from any competitor. Suddenly I found a use for the massive sheaf of grocery flyers that land on my porch every Thursday. I’ve gotten into a routine where I peruse the flyers to find products I usually buy, then enter the product name, competitor’s price, and competitor’s name into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet and relevant flyers go into a plastic envelope with my grocery list, and I hit No Frills at 9 a.m. on Mondays, when it’s relatively empty. On an average week I save about $20 using price matching. This week I happen to have saved more like $40. Add $20 to the previously mentioned $40 drop just by shopping at No Frills, and you have a grocery bill that is a mere shadow of what it used to be. And that makes me happy.

 

Keep in mind here that I haven’t changed what I buy, just where and how I buy it. We still eat all kosher meat and dairy (for those out of the loop, Kosher generally = expensive) and buy a ton of fresh produce, even in the winter. We use real maple syrup on our French Toast and oatmeal. I even splurge and buy convenience items, like frozen garlic cubes, that are completely unnecessary but really nice to have. So our quality of life hasn’t diminished at all. We’re just doing the same thing more cheaply.

Same with clothes. I’ve been buying most of my children’s clothes (as well as their dress shoes) at a local secondhand children’s shop. The clothes are often brand-name items, very gently used, and cost me roughly a quarter of what they would cost new. I bought N’s entire fall/winter wardrobe for about $50. That and two pairs of pants I made him have him outfitted in style.

It’s taken me ages to be able to do this, but after reading Mr. Money Mustache I was determined to see if I could cut back my own clothing budget (doubtful, since I’m hardly a clothes horse.) I went to the thrift shop and looked for a skirt to wear to shul. $6 later, I now have a really cute skirt that has already earned me a few compliments. It looks completely new. I decided to try my luck again (maybe the skirt was a fluke?) and wound up finding a pair of jeans, the exact same brand and cut as the ones I usually buy at the mall, for under $10. Excitement! It’s starting to look like I can outfit myself nicely for about $200 this year (I’d say $100, but I need a cold-weather wardrobe and a warm-weather one, too, and I need to buy new stuff because most of what’s in my closet is still maternity wear.)

This is BIG NEWS, people. I’m eating the same food and wearing the same clothes, but wayyyy less money is leaving our bank account.

Mr. Money Mustache points out that there’s a difference between being frugal and being cheap. Frugal is buying the same food in a more strategic way so as to end up spending less. Cheap is buying worse-quality food or less healthy food because it costs less. Armed with MMM’s bloggy wisdom and our own grit and determination, Mr. D and I hope to save more in 2013 than we have in any other year of our marriage.  If we succeed, we’ll be well on our way to growing a money mustache of our very own.

I can only hope it's more tasteful-looking than this one.

I can only hope it’s more tasteful-looking than this one.

So… what money-saving strategies can you share with me?

February 5, 2013

It’s an honour just to be nominated… the Liebster award

by Decemberbaby

I recently received a message from my bloggy friend Rivki over at Life in the Married Lane that she had nominated me for a Liebster award. I’ve never heard of these awards before, but it’s an honour to be chosen. Here are the rules:

1) Tell 11 things about yourself.
2) Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
3) Post 11 questions for those who will be nominated by you.
4) Nominate 11 bloggers.
5) Get in contact with those bloggers to inform them that you nominated them

It’s easier than thinking up a totally original post, so here goes…

11 Things about me:

1. I once ran a half-triathlon. I was 19 years old and reeling from a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia. I set my own training schedule, trained for three months, and came in second in my age class… out of two athletes. I am immensely proud and still have the plaque and the photos to prove it.

2. I knew that I would marry Mr. December within moments of seeing him. Not meeting him, seeing him. And it wasn’t a conscious, “wow, he’s so gorgeous I wanna marry him.” It was more of an intuitive flash: my brain said to me, “I’m gonna marry that guy,” and I said to my brain, “What? That’s crazy! You don’t know him! You don’t even know if he’s Jewish!” Needless to say, my intuition was correct. I was 15 years old.

3. My children did not come easily to me. I was infertile. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and completely changed my perspective on life. Truly. I’ve been depressed, bitter, emotionally unstable, jealous, and every other ugly emotion you can think of. Infertility is brutal. One of my biggest fears is that infertile people may see me with my three children under the age of 5 and feel jealous and resentful. Our past struggles aren’t out there for all to see. I sometimes wish I could dress my kids in t-shirts that say “IUI Baby”, “IVF Baby”, and “We thought we were infertile. Surprise!”

4. I’m very comfortable with the elderly. I used to work in a nursing home. Dementia doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable. I’m happy to sit and converse with elderly people for hours. I wouldn’t normally mention this, but it’s been brought to my attention that many people are extremely uncomfortable in those situations.

5. I once spent a month in a wheelchair. It was crunch time in second-year university and my fibromyalgia was flaring up and making it difficult to get through the day. Staying home sick wasn’t an option, so I used a wheelchair to help me conserve energy so that I could keep up with my schedule. It was definitely an education. To this day, that was the only time anyone at Tim Hortons has asked me if I’d like my muffin heated up.

6. I like sex. I hear jokes and anecdotes about wives not being interested in sex and I’m completely unable to relate. This is verging on TMI, so I’ll leave it at that.

7. My guilty pleasure? Ready Pride and Prejudice Fanfiction. I don’t know why I love it so much, but I never get tired of the “what ifs?” inspired by Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy. It’s like reading trashy novels, I suppose. Also, some of it is surprisingly (and enjoyably) smutty (see item #6.)

8. I’m not happy unless I’m creating something. I actually kind of dread vacations, because I don’t know what I’d do after the first few days without my sewing machine and power tools. Honestly, just how many novels can one person read?

9. I had some seriously low self-esteem. I had practically no friends in elementary school. I was frequently the only kid in my class not invited to bar mitzvahs (really, what kind of parent allows their child to invite the whole class minus one?). I was teased about my clothes, my hobbies (apparently classical opera-style singing isn’t cool,) the way I spoke (my mother was from a British colony. We didn’t braid my hair, we plaited it.) It wasn’t until I got to high school that I realized the problem wasn’t me – it was the culture at my old school. Suddenly my skills and talents (and quirks) were valued, I had friends, and my whole self-image changed.

10. I kind of wish I had the discipline and dedication to be frum. I love Judaism, its traditions, its community, and I wish I could really be fully part of a frum community… but I can’t. I’m just not there. I’m still coming to terms with that realization. Good thing my frum friends still love me regardless.

11. I have no regrets. I’m one of those annoying people who feels that everything that’s happened has made me into the person I am, so no regrets. Not one. Well, maybe one: I shouldn’t have eaten that chocolate bar today. But aside from that, no regrets.

Now, Rivki has asked a bunch of questions that I’m supposed to answer. Let’s see how many I can get through before my eyes start to close:

  1. If you could outsource any domestic chore or duty, which one would you choose?

Definitely laundry. I’d rather scrub the bathroom than fold laundry. It used to be grocery shopping, but now I’m all organized and in a groove, so I don’t mind it so much.

What mitzvah, or spiritual practice, do you connect with the most?

Oh, boy. I’d have to say it’s a toss-up between Mikvah and the Passover Seder. Mikvah because it was personally very relevant right after my miscarriage and through the years of infertility treatments – it felt very much like a fresh start, physically and emotionally and spiritually. And the Passover seder? I love the wisdom inherent in it: our culture and religion are passed on through the things we tell our children. I love the ritualization of that retelling.

What’s your favourite holiday?

Passover, hands down.

Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve visited?

You’re going to make me choose? Okay, fine. We went on a hike in the Golan heights to a river called the “Jilaboon” (Nahal Giv’on, in Hebrew) and it ended in a deep valley, covered over by oleander trees in bloom, and a waterfall cascading into a deep pool. We went swimming there. It was gorgeous.

What song would you listen to for a burst of energy?

Walking on Sunshine. How can you not want to get up and get moving when you hear that song?

What do you consider comfort food?

Chocolate. Preferably Cadbury’s pretzels & peanut butter chocolate bar. Yum. Also on the comfort food list are hummus and pita, and chicken soup.

Prior to marriage, did you have a “list” of qualities you wanted in a spouse? If so, how close was your list to reality?

I’m sure I had a list running in my mind. I wanted a man with a beautiful voice, who would sing to me. I wanted someone who loved being outdoors. Someone who knew that chivalry wasn’t dead – who would open doors for me, etc. I wanted someone gregarious and optimistic. And who did I marry? I call him “Tall, Dark, and Broody.” He doesn’t really sing. He’s practically a vampire – feels no drive whatsoever to go outside. I trained him in the art of chivalry. Gregarious and optimistic? Hmmm… he’s a charismatic skeptic. He’s my perfect other half, and I’m crazy in love with him.

If you could play any instrument, which one would it be?

I do play an instrument. No, I play five or six: voice (yes, it’s an instrument,) piano, guitar, viola, flute, drums. If I could choose another to learn magically? I wouldn’t… I’d just choose to become very, very good at guitar.

You won a free trip to anywhere you like. Where would you go?

Israel.

Okay, now it’s my turn to ask the questions! Here goes…

1. What’s your passion in life?

2. Given the option, what time would be the “perfect” wake-up time for you?

3. What’s your favourite mode of transportation?

4. What do you think of The Simpsons?

5. If you were a food, what kind of food would you be?

6. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? Did it pay off?

7. If you didn’t have to work for a living, how would you spend your days?

8. What’s your favourite charity?

9. If you had two hours a day all to yourself with absolutely no other obligatons, how would you spend them?

10. What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

11. Why do you blog?

And now for the nominees…

Jennifer from Adventures in Mama-land
Lisaleh from Modern Balabusta
Miri from Here we are together
Andy from Fly, little words, fly!
Sheryl from Little Snowflakes
Gideon from Exploring Souls and Cities
Elizabeth from Project Progeny
The ever-skilled at Lego, and apparently kind of anonymous, Bible Belt Balabusta
Cheryl from Wunch Break
Lisa from Helical Smile

And… that’s it. I know it’s only 10, but you’ll forgive me. Right? Right? If I’ve forgotten you, by any chance, please consider yourself nominated.

And now, off to inform my nominees. Can’t wait to see their answers!

… 1506 words later, I must conclude that it would have been easier to come up with my own post idea!