May 23, 2012

And They Called Her Pinny

I've got bad news. It's really bad.

No seriously - it's a problem.

I'm addicted. That's right. Addicted.

My drug of choice? Pinterest.

I have turned into a pinning freak. It's gotten so bad that Ricky no longer calls me Lucy. My new nickname is Pinny. Seriously.

How can one website be simultaneously terrific and awful?

Terrific because of the neverending ideas for cooking, baking, sewing, decorating, art projects for children, fashion tips, hairstyle how-tos, and probably even step-by-step spelunking instructions if you dig deep enough. I don't know - I rarely make it past the food.

Awful because it might just be the most incredible time suck ever created. Even more than Facebook. That's right! I can easily spend more time pinning than creeping on the Facebook pages of the people from my past. Don't even pretend you don't do that, too.

(By the way, if I haven't talked to you in a few years and I happen to see you out somewhere I will most likely ask what you're up to and how things are going. Truth is, I already know the answers due to your Facebook status updates and photo albums. Not only would I probably recognize your children if I saw them, I would know their names and ages.)

 So Pinterest.

Ironically, I found this little gem on Pinterest.

I have convinced myself beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am capable of becoming an all-around domestic bad ass because of all of the inspiration I have found on Pinterest!

I have plans. Oh yes, big plans.

I plan to bake a delicious chocolate fat free cake from scratch while wearing a homemade wrap dress and a 10-minute chignon in my hair. While my dessert is baking, I will cut fruit for a beach scene snack for Little Ricky as he paints the kitchen walls with colored shaving cream and rolls homemade playdough on the tile floor. My dogs will snack on treats baked from scratch, and I will clean up their mess with my organic, baby-friendly cleaning supplies I created from only three simple household ingredients. After strapping the Bulldog to my chest in a handsewn baby carrier (which according to the directions is super easy to make) we will head to the garage where I will strip an old piece of furniture and re-upholster matching bar stools. Follow up this project with some crafty wall hangings made from contact paper and Modge Podge and perhaps a quick reorganization of my spice collection using printed labels and Ikea shelves. Dinner will consist of chicken enchilada crockpot casserole with a side of oven-baked sweet potato fries and roasted cauliflower. Because on Pinterest the cauliflower is always roasted.

Whew! I feel exhausted just planning my day 'o Pinterest and this only covers about 7 of my 532,000 pins (on 481 boards, no less). Furthermore, I don't actually have the time to follow through with any of my Pinterest ideas because I'm busy, well... pinning.

So herein lies the Pinterest dilemma. How can one person possibly create/bake/build all of the fabulous ideas that are found on Pinterest?! Turns out, one can't. But for some reason that doesn't stop me from pinning everything that looks even remotely fun/tasty/trendy!

I forgot to mention the fitness pictures of super fit, tan, ripped chicks wearing lingerie and boxing gloves. Yeah. 'Cause that's gonna happen.

And then comes the guilt.

The guilt of knowing that realistically I will never attempt, much less complete, at least 90% of the crap that I pin.

I feel guilty for letting Little Ricky watch Caillou when we could be making handprint flowers and footprint butterflies instead! And for the record, I kind of hate Caillou. He's whiny and annoying, and I think Sid the Science Kid could kick his ass any day.

I feel guilty for not having a house that looks like it came from a Martha Stewart magazine that I created for less than $200 in only 4 days or less.

I feel guilty that I didn't leave cutesy notes on the bathroom mirror for Ricky,  not to mention following through on the other 17 ideas for How To Flirt With Your Husband!

Most of all I feel guilty when I spend $25 at Hobby Lobby buying supplies for a new Pinterest craft and then I get home and remember that I am not crafty. Not even a little bit.

Enough! I've had about enough of the guilt!

So instead of feeling guilty about all of the things I will never actually do, I have decided on a different approach to Pinterest. My new focus? Dessert.

Any dessert that looks even a little bit delicious gets pinned. I have decided that before I die I will attempt to make all of them. Because honestly, I don't love sewing. I don't love scrapbooking. I most definitely don't love making furniture out of vegetable crates and Gorilla Glue. But I do love to eat dessert. Not only do I love it - I'm damn good at it.

So bring on the cookies, cakes, pies, pastries... and don't forget all 300 recipes for Nutella desserts! Because this gal is ready to do some baking.

For the record, I have attempted exactly three pins. That's right... three. Stop pretending you have done more. One might say, though, that the three I have tried have been revolutionary. Truly.

Hard boiled eggs in the oven? Brilliant.

The best fruit dip ever? Delicious.

THE SOCK BUN?! Game changer.

And there you have it, folks. While I would love to keep writing about my love/hate relationship with Pinterest, it's time for me to go. Go pin, that is.

"Walk softly and carry a big pin." -President Theodore Roosevelt

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May 18, 2012

Dang! Look At All That Sweat.

Today I'm feeling very full. Either I have a lot of things to be thankful for in my life, or I just had a really big lunch.

Truth? Both.

So yeah, full. As the school year draws to a close - could Ricky BE  more excited there are only two weeks left? - I feel like taking the opportunity to reflect on how much our lives have changed in a year. This time last year I was counting down the days that I would no longer be teaching and I would officially be a bonafide, full-time stay-at-home mom. This had nothing to do with not liking my job. In fact, I loved teaching and the people I worked with. It takes a certain sense of humor and personality, if you will, to teach special education, so between ARD meetings and behavior plans I often found myself laughing hysterically with the women that I worked with. I absolutely miss that; no doubt about it.

But for me, I know I will find that again one day when I return to the world of teaching. When  I decided to stay home, Mother Ethel gave me the following insight: "There will always be special children to teach when you are ready to go back; there will not always be tiny children at home to take care of." Hmm.

Be that as it may, I was nervous about making the leap for two reasons. The first one is obvious - who can possibly afford to live on one salary? The second reason was somewhat selfish - will I be lonely?

Something stay-at-home moms don't talk about very often is the fact that staying home with your children all day every day can sometimes feel lonely and even isolating. Now this is not a woe-is-me post, but the truth of the matter is that there is a lot of down time between play dates, birthday parties, and all of the standard first moments - you know, eating solids, walking, talking...

(On a side note: I couldn't wait for Little Ricky to start walking! My grandmother - yes, she is Grand Ethel - told me early on that as soon as he starts to walk just push him down. WHAT?! Of course I want him to walk! It's so exciting! I was wrong, folks. Tiny walking people throw you into a whole new ballgame. And as soon as the Bulldog starts walking - or even acting like she wants to - I have every intention of pushing her down. Truth.)

You may be thinking to yourself, Hey Lucy! Maybe you should spend some of your down time organizing your closets or working on baby books instead of blogging.

Oh yeah? Eat my shorts.

In an effort to combat the potential loneliness of staying home, I decided last summer to join a moms' group. I didn't actually know anybody in a moms' group, but who needs to know somebody when you're really great at walking into an unfamiliar situation meeting people on your own? Oh wait, I'm not. Boooo.

So my boyfriend Google led me to the national MOPS website. MOPS is not a group for people who love to mop, which is actually great because I hate to mop. MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. Initially I was a little confused because at that time Little Ricky was not attending prechool, per se, but technically he was pre-school because he didn't go to school yet... right?

Turns out the only requirement is that your kid(s) are ages 0-kindergarten. Perfect! Little Ricky fell into that range, and once the Bulldog was born she would be zero.

By the way, I think from this point forward if anyone asks how old she is I'm going to say she's zero. Forget the months or weeks crap. She's not one, so she must be zero.

MOPS promised me a delicious brunch and a few hours of childcare for Little Ricky. I. Am. In.

I walked into the first meeting and didn't know a soul. I was nervous. I was intimidated. I was sweaty.

Can you blame me? It was HOT! And there I was, hugely pregnant, with women I didn't know and I kept thinking to myself: Why am I here? No one wants to be friends with the pregnant sweaty woman who may or may not have pushed down her firstborn child in the parking lot so he would STOP walking!

(Kidding. I didn't push him down that day.)

But here's the funny thing. They did want to be my friend! Even though many of the women in the group obviously knew each other - some have been in the group for years - they were so nice and welcoming! I literally have had the same three friends for basically my entire life, so when I say I'm not very good at making new ones I'm being serious. Yet, somehow I have managed over the course of this year to make friends with many of these fabulous moms.

So after attending MOPS  meetings twice a month since September, the opportunity to join the leadership team presented itself and I decided to apply for a position. Ladies and Gentlemen, you find me here today as the Publicity Chairman (Chairwomen? Leader? Master? Queen?) of our group.

Which brings me to this morning. Our first official leadership team meeting. This is why I feel full today. At the risk of sounding cheesy, I am so excited to be apart of a group of women whose main purpose is to help other women be great mothers! I feel very blessed to be apart of something so wonderful. It's amazing what can happen in your life when you're willing to take a risk and put yourself out there.

I honestly didn't know how things would go when I joined MOPS, but I can honestly say it has been one of the best decisions I have made in the past year. I am thrilled to see what this next year has to offer. And when our first meeting rolls around this fall, I hope there's a sweaty, pregnant newbie that needs a friend. Because I now know that being awkward and sweaty does not mean you can't make friends.

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May 4, 2012

Girl, Look At That Body... I Work Out!

Oh, LMFAO... when I can't find the words I need to describe how I'm feeling, I simply look to the lyrics of I'm Sexy and I Know It and alas, I always seem to find what I need.

Who doesn't agree with me that "Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, YEAH!" will immediately bring you out of a sad funk or angry mood? Just try it. Next time you're feeling down, wiggle your butt and sing this song. I swear it will make your day better.

And if you're feeling really brave, check out the accompanying music video - it is hilarous for all of the wrong reasons. If you are easily offended don't watch it. Just don't. Also if you're my parent or grandparent, you probably shouldn't watch it either. It may be difficult to look you in the eye the next time I see you (except maybe Mother Ethel; oddly enough, I think it was she that first showed it to me).

But I digress.

While I'm sure we can all agree that LMFAO is musically gifted - or just really stupid, I don't actually know which - I'm not here to talk about the nuances of pop culture. I actually just wanted to update you all on my weight loss challenge.

After two incredibly boring weeks of minimal effort, and as a result minimal weight loss, I finally decided to actually try and make some progress this week. Drum roll please...


Now that's what I call progress, people! Everyone keeps telling me that 1-2 pounds a week is the healthy way to lose weight, so I guess I'm on track.So what did I do differently this week?

Weight Watchers: I actually tracked my points and stayed within my target for the week. We've been eating a lot of fruits and veggies, lean meats, and drinking protein shakes. Exciting stuff, I know.

Couch to 5K: I have convinced the Ethels to run a 5K with me on July 4th. We are following the 3-day-a-week training program and I did both of the workouts so far this week. Again, exiting.

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred: This DVD is the hardest 20 minute workout I have done at home. If you want to try it, the entire workout (divided into three levels, 20 minutes each) are on YouTube. How's that for convenient? Not to mention, Jillian is friends with Bob Harper, who you know I love dearly, and I think this is the closest I will ever get to being apart of The Biggest Loser. My goal is to do the shred 5 days a week in addition to the C25K training.

Did you know that eating healthy and working out really does work? It's shocking, I know.

So here's the breakdown:
I've lost a total of 2.7 pounds in the last 3 weeks, or 0.9 pounds average per week.

That weight is in addition to the 15 I lost during my first health kick earlier this year, so it's actually 17.7 pounds since January 1st.

So while this information may seem boring to you, this is kind of my way of holding myself accountable for losing weight.

And yes, I'm sexy and I know it.

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May 3, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch

I've always aspired to be apart of the Ladies Who Lunch. I see myself sleeping in, working out with a trainer, and going to lunch with my girlfriends while Mary Poppins raises my children.

Let me be clear - even though I stay home now, I couldn't be further from the elusive ladies who lunch.

Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, I have gotten a lot of questions about the logistics of going from a two income family to only one. I certainly don't claim to be an expert on the topic, but I have learned a lot in the past year about what works and what doesn't, for us anyway. Recently a college friend messaged me with a few questions about the how-tos of transitioning from working to staying home, so I decided to take some of the information I gave to her and share it with all of you. So whether you want to stay home or you are just curious about if we can even afford to eat anything more substantial than Ramen Noodles (yes, we can) then read on.

As a firm believer that a family's financial situation is private (Father Fred, the accountant, imparted this on me at a very early age) I will not divulge a whole lot of specific numbers; rather I will stick to broader tips and ideas that have worked well for us. That being said, a teacher's salary is public information, so Google if you must.

As for the initial the decision to stay home, it was 100% my idea and it took a lot of convincing on my part. I worked on Ricky for a good six months before he finally agreed, and it took me getting pregnant with the Bulldog to solidify the decision. You don't even want to know what childcare for two children costs, but let's just say it would have been more than our house payment.

He was (understandably) very skeptical, especially because his job wasn't changing at all and he kind of felt like why should things have to change for him just so that I could do what I wanted to do? I tried to stress the benefits of me being home - having a clean house, grocery shopping, making dinner, doing laundry - all things that honestly weren't getting done very well when I was working full time and he had to do half of it, too.

Funnily enough, my house at this moment is not clean, and guess who cooked dinner last night? Ricky. But I did manage to keep the kids fed and alive for the entire day, so I think that counts for something.

Ricky tends to focus on the practical rather than the emotional side of any given issue (unlike myself) so naturally he wanted to know first and foremost how we were going to financially handle living solely on his teaching/coaching salary. After researching medical transcription (seriously) and deciding that was a terrible idea, I tried to convince him (and myself) that I could easily make extra money with a direct consultant business. So I immediately paid my $99 start up fee and became a Scentsy consultant!

This is kind of hilarious because I don't have a single business-minded bone in my entire body. Furthermore, direct sales practically require two things: competent (read, un-awkward) social skills and a passion for meeting and talking to strangers. I have neither. I should've learned my lesson after my brief stint of selling Mary Kay in college. Seriously, that happened.

So anyway, I started selling Scentsy to supplement our income while still working full time. That was during the fall of 2010, and Little Ricky was still an infant. Although it helped a little (okay, a very little) I found that to make enough money to really make a difference for us I needed to put in a lot more time. No thank you.

(By the way, I actually do still sell Scentsy and I swear this will be my one and only plug for the duration of writing this blog. I absolutely love the products, and have turned a few of the Ethels into Scentsy addicts as well. So if you need a warmer or a little wax you can visit my website: - I know, I'm shameless.)

I am not saying that working for a direct sales company can't work. It works for a lot of people - I have met many very successful Scentsy consultants - but I highly doubt that I will ever make the big bucks selling anything.

Okay, so back to becoming a SAHM. At the risk of sounding incredibly old-fashioned, I have taken the perspective that staying home is my new job. Of course Ricky still helps out at night and on the weekends with the kids, but I don't expect him to maintain things around the house because now that's my job. Honestly though, staying on top of things at home can be tough! Since there are no deadlines and now I'm my own boss, if you will, it's easy to put things off or say "oh, I will just do that later!" I have found that being organized and even delegating certain tasks to specific days keeps me on top of everything. This does not always pan out, but I really am trying. I think Ricky appreciates the things I'm able to take care of now, and hopefully he sees benefits for himself, too.

So how do we manage? Here goes...

We treated my first year at home as a trial year. I convinced Ricky to just give me one year of staying home to see if it would work. I promised him that if things were too tough financially, I would go back to work the following August and at least I would have had that one year at home with LR and the Bulldog. I am coming up on the end of the trial year, and I feel lucky that I am going to be able to stay home a little longer. Again though, we are taking it one school year at a time, and this time next year we will reevaluate the situation. I would like to think I could stay home until all the kidlets go to kindergarten (DO NOT tell Ricky I said that -it will freak him out) but realistically that may not happen.

Before making any big decisions, we took a long, hard look at our income and budget. It was amazing how much extra money we were spending on things we don't really need! We have reduced eating out, shopping trips, and other various extras. Don't worry too much; we still have cable, so I think we're okay.

Other cuts were small but added up quick - we downsized the cable TV package to save about $50 a month, we make coffee at home instead of going to Starbucks, Ricky packs his lunch, yada yada yada.

I also started couponing like a madwoman, and I save tons of money that way. My goal is to save at least 45% each week, and we've had a couple weeks that we've saved up to 65% off our groceries. That includes the expensive stuff we all hate buying - detergent, body wash, cleaning supplies, and even razors. Ugh - razors are the worst. Another perk of couponing: I look really cool with my giant 3-ring binder (with a zipper) that holds my coupons divided into 17 categories. Fabulous, I know! In fact, I was hit on by a 17-year-old cashier at Kroger just this week. Seriously. I make couponing look good!

This is not a couponing post - although I'm obsessed with it - but here are my favorite websites if you are interested: - Start here for beginner tips, the rules, yada yada yada. - This site has a membership fee, but it's relatively small compared to what you save. It's my favorite!

Couponing can take a lot of time, but since I stay home I consider that part of my job. And - nerd alert - it's really fun.

Moving on. Consignment stores and sales are perfect for kids' toys and basic everyday play clothes. You wouldn't believe how often clothes still have the tags on them! Typically, I save new outfits for special occasions or events. And if you're kids are anything like mine, they would rather play with Tupperware or paper plates than actual toys, so I enjoy spending less money on toys through consignment. I don't know why this was hard for me to accept, but they really are the exact same toys you can buy at the store. I promise. Just wash everything you buy - even the stuff with the tags - so it smells like your stuff.

Consignment is like finding a husband  - you have to go through a lot of crap to find the good stuff. But if you look hard enough, it's there.

We still try to do fun things with each other and the kids, but we find cheaper ways to do them. We go to the park (free), go to the movies during the day rather than at night (cheaper), yada yada yada. And in a weird way, we almost have more fun doing those things now because we see things like eating out as a splurge and we enjoy it more than we used to. There are certain things we won't give up - for example, our annual anniversary dinner at III Forks - so we literally keep an envelope in our safe specifically for this event and add to it throughout the year. That way when our anniversary rolls around the money is ready to go!

I can't get around talking about money - it's a necessary evil. We started by looking at our debt. I went through a Dave Ramsey phase in college, and while I'm not a strict devotee I agree with most of what he has to say.

Ricky and I are incredibly lucky to have family in our lives who not only encouraged us to attend college, but who supported us in various ways - not just financially but emotionally as well.

To the Freds and Ethels who contributed to our college educations: Please know that your support, financial and otherwise, does not go unnoticed. We KNOW how lucky we are, and living free of college loan debt is truly making a huge difference in our lives as we raise our own family.

 And thank you, TCU, for the academic scholarship and FREE graduate school. I always knew I was a bad ass, and apparently you knew it, too.

We eliminated all credit card debt as soon as we got married. That may or may not have been mine. Now we only use our debit cards, and if we don't have the money for something already in our bank account we don't buy it. I think that is worth repeating - IF WE DON'T HAVE THE MONEY FOR SOMETHING ALREADY IN OUR BANK ACCOUNT WE DO NOT BUY IT!

Our house and car payments are our only debt, and most of our other bills are fixed so we know what's going out each month. After the bills are paid, that's when the real fun begins - compromise! We work together to figure our when/where/how/if to spend whatever is left over.

Building a savings account for our family was very important, as we did not want to feel like we were living paycheck to paycheck. I guess we are doing that, but without worry because our savings is there just in case. Last January we decided to practice living on one income to see if it would work or not. From January through August (my last paycheck) we lived off of Ricky's salary and tried to put most of my paycheck into our savings account. It was great because we were able to learn how to live on less without having to stress when when we made mistakes (and we made plenty of them).

Building our savings was twofold - it gave us a chance to practice our new lifestyle as well as bulk up our savings account. Now when something unexpected comes up that's not in the budget, we have our savings to fall back on. For example, we recently spent $500 to fix Ricky's truck, and yes it sucked to spend the money, but we had it in our savings and we were able to take care of it. Similarly, we were able to set aside money for the Bulldog's hospital bills, so after she was born we were able to pay those medical bills outright. And trust me, now that we've reached our deductible and out-of-pocket maximum, I'm taking full advantage of our "free" healthcare - foot surgery, anyone?

So we did all of this, and things were still a challenge. But then something happened - I think Oprah would call it a God thing. Our nephew needed childcare, and I just happened to be staying home. Since they live only 10 minutes away, he stays with me Monday through Friday, and the extra money from watching him is enough to keep us from having to rely on our savings unless it's an emergency. And I'm already doing kid things all day long, so why not take care of a third?

Want to hear God thing part two? My nephew doesn't need childcare anymore starting in a few weeks, but the newest Ethel - my precious niece - does! Another bonus: Ricky thinks that having a young(er) baby in the house will cure my baby fever.

Why does my baby fever never go away, even when I give birth? I just really love the tiny ones. But don't get any crazy ideas, we aren't adding another Ricardo anytime soon.

Are there days that I still worry about money? Of course. I think about college, and retirement, and all of those other adult-like things and it stresses me out if I let it. But then I think about the benefits of staying home for me, right now, where I am at in my life, and I know everything will turn out okay.

Disclaimer: There are many days when I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing and I question if I'm up for the challenge of staying home and raising children. Who decided I was competent enough to even have them to begin with?! I don't have all of the answers and I make a lot of mistakes, but maybe there's a little something in this post that can help you or someone you know who is thinking about staying home.

And furthermore, I am just as in awe of working mothers as I am of stay-at-home mothers. Being a mother is damn hard. It's also damn worth it. So keep on keepin' on, mamas. I think you are all fantastic.

And I can still dream about becoming a lady who lunches... right?

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