A blog about family, food and fun!

Tag: frugal living

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy Blogiversary!

One Year of Blogging Done!   Last weekend was the one year anniversary of Oscoey. I can’t believe how quickly the last year has gone! I have learned a lot about blogging over the past year and gotten to know many fabulous bloggers as well. […]

An Overview of Meal Planning

An Overview of Meal Planning

Meal Planning to Save Time and Money   I have heard of the wonderful idea called meal planning many times over the past few years and every time I read a post about it I love the idea of having all of our meals planned […]

Going back to work after being a Stay at Home Mom

Going back to work after being a Stay at Home Mom

Going Back to Work

 

Three weeks ago on a Monday marked a new day in the Oscoey household. For the first time in over three years I am no longer a stay at home mom. I went back to work and the next few months will be a season of change for us. I looked for six months for a job that is a good fit for me and I am pretty sure I found it! It is all very exciting and new and I am sure the first few weeks will be difficult but in the long run it will be better for our family.  I have not worked full-time since our oldest daughter was in elementary school and even then it was a retail job so I did not have regular hours. This new job will be my first full-time job with regular hours and I am really excited about it!

 

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beach
Oldest and the youngest at the beach.

 

Preparing for going back to work

The last couple of weeks prior to starting work were pretty hectic catching up on last minute tasks that needed to be completed before I no longer had a bunch of time. Laundry, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments and hiring a nanny topped my list. I would have loved to have the entire house scrubbed from top to bottom but we had a busy weekend before I went back and that just didn’t happen. I settled for reasonably clean and a solid plan in place as to when regular household tasks will be complete.

 

We originally wanted to hire a nanny for morning drop offs but it kept getting delayed and after a couple of weeks of Mr. Oscoey dropping the kids off he didn’t want to give up that special time with the kids so we are going to try and make it work without one. I start before day care opens but hopefully after I have been at work a while I will have some flexibility with my start time. Child care is a major expense for working families and one of the reasons I held out for so long when finding a job is that I wanted to earn enough that we weren’t breaking even with day care costs.

 

Outside play
I am going to miss our lazy afternoons outside.

 

The change from SAHM to Working Mom

 

The hardest part of going back to work has been the mental part. My kids had a super easy adjustment. They love their school and my daughter is always asking to stay later so she can hang out with her friends more and now she is able to do that every day and she loves it. My son loves his class too and is always smiling and laughing when I pick him up. Sometimes he doesn’t want to leave either. Neither kid has a hard time at drop off so we at least do not have that to add to the stress of returning to work but I am still having a bunch of mom guilt about going back which is totally normal. It hit me really hard this week when we all came down with the flu. My husband and daughter had it first and I went to work on Monday and Tuesday not being the one at home with a sick kid all day and even though I knew Mr. Oscoey would be an awesome care taker of her it was still hard. My job the past few years has been to take care of the kids and I was always the one to care for them when they were sick while my husband went off to work. Needless to say Mr. Oscoey did an awesome job and I am really grateful that he was able to stay home with her.

 

dog
George taking care of his girl.

 

Family time is more precious

 

The biggest challenge for me the past week weeks with working has been time.  I have been trying to spend a little bit of time with each kid every day. My daughter gets up with me in the morning and we eat breakfast together before I leave for work. After school I try and get some alone time with my son for a bit before bed time. We have had really busy weekends the past few weeks with a day trip to visit Bellingham, two school auctions, Easter, birthday parties and the usual weekly family activities of dance/gymnastics class. It has been a challenge to fit everything in and I am definitely going to have to scale back my gardening this year but I am more focused on the family when we are all together and as an added bonus since the kids are not home all week making messes the house cleaning has gotten easier. I am looking ahead in our calendar and we have a few full days free on the weekends and I think we should spend some of that time on family day trips to maximize family bonding.

 

Last Wednesday morning walk with my friend.

 

The one thing I have been missing since I went back to work has been the ability to exercise regularly. I worked pretty hard to get back into a great exercise routine the past six or so months and one of the things I had to give up when returning to work was my weekly Stott Pilates sessions. I miss it quite a bit. I am on a waiting list for if a spot opens outside of work hours but I am afraid if I wait too long I will lose all of the progress I worked hard for.  I also miss my semi-regular long walks with a good friend. We have been walking for over a year and I will greatly miss our talks and the opportunity to get some much needed exercise in as well! Now that the weather is starting to get better I am going to try going for shorter walks in the evenings in my neighborhood after the kids go to bed. I am also going to try and locate a Pilates studio near my work so that I can continue my progress. I am pretty exhausted when I get home from work but I sit at a desk all day long so exercising after work is a necessity for long term health.

 

The first few weeks back to work have been a season of change in the Oscoey household. How has going back to work after a period of being home changed your household?

 

Indoor Seed Starting Resources

Indoor Seed Starting Resources

Indoor Seed Starting Time   It is that time of year again when I start to think about what seeds I need to start indoors. This is our third year gardening at our house and the second year for us starting seeds indoors. Last year […]

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

We have come to the end of our Uber Frugal Month Challenge and we were pretty successful! We kept to our super low grocery budget, were mindful about our purchases and had some great discussions about where we want our life to head and what […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think about how we spent our money. Last week was a rough one for us and the entire week seemed against us but it did not effect our spending and we are on track with our grocery spending for the month. Yay!

 

Tacos made with canned refried beans, leftover pork, feta, olives and corn tortillas with salad.

 

We dug into our pantry a bit this week and used up some cans including olives, refried beans, tomatoes and a can of chicken. My kids love the cans of Costco chicken made into chicken salad and it is one of the few things I can send in their lunches that they will actually eat. I have tried making it from scratch chicken but even though I love it my kids are iffy on it.  We also used up some of the corn tortillas I found in our freezer. There are still quite a few in there though! Here are a couple of our other meals:

 

Salad, leftover refried beans, frozen corn and what we call “basic” cooked pork.

 

Homemade meatballs, homemade spaghetti sauce, gluten-free noodles, steamed carrots and salad.

 

As you can see a simple green salad with sunflower seeds has become a staple in our house.  I have always loved salads and try to eat at least one a day but I fell out of that habit while I was pregnant with our son. For some reason any sort of fresh fruit or vegetables made me sick and nearly two years later I am still trying to recover from it. Have you ever had a weird food aversion like that? Thankfully I can now eat salad again but I am still working on fruit. It just isn’t appealing to me any more even though I used to love it. I am hoping this summer when we are out picking fresh fruit it will spark my interest again! Our kids are not super fond of salad although they will eat a piece or two of lettuce sometimes when we ask them to try it so we always offer another vegetable and give them a choice of what they want. In the summer when we have lettuce growing in the garden the kids eat it all day long so apparently lettuce is only tasty to them straight from the garden? I may have to finally try growing some indoors and see if they will eat it.

 

Homemade English muffin, homemade pork sausage and vegan cheese.

 

One of the things my husband did for the kids this week was make homemade English muffins and make them breakfast sandwiches in the morning. They absolutely loved them and my son ate a whole one by himself which is crazy! Other days they ate them with peanut butter or even some of our homemade jam. We have ground our own meat for many years and my husband makes the most delicious garlic sausage. He made it this week and we have been eating it all week. I love garlic so it has been wonderful!

 

Homemade kettle corn.

 

The other food we have been munching on quite a bit lately is popcorn.  My husband loves his spicy but the kids and I love his dairy-free kettle corn made with coconut oil. We have been making it so much that we wore out his stove-top popcorn maker.  A new one is on our list of high priority household items to buy in the next couple of months. We use it several times a week for a cheap and easy snack!

 

A very windy and rainy day walk.

 

We had more than a little bit of cabin fever this week. Our kids were finally getting over two months of back to back colds and needed to get out and do something. Since we are being frugal we tried to find things for them to do at home but there reached a point last week when we had about 30 minutes to take them outside in the windy and very wet weather to jump in puddles to burn off some energy. It ended up being tons of fun! We went on the trail through the woods that I have been hearing about since we moved in but never gotten around to walking on and it was a pretty trail to walk on. We ended up doing a 3/4 (2yo and I) and 1 mile (4yo and Mr. Oscoey) loop and both kids walked the whole way and jumped in as many puddles as they could.  We will probably start doing more family walks around the neighborhood like that, especially since our son didn’t need to be carried. It is a great free activity for the family to do and it is important that our kids know the layout of the neighborhood for when they are older.

 

Water color finger painting.

 

Another boredom buster we did was to break out the paint. I realized we stopped doing our afternoon art because we got busy with the holidays. We have started it up again and the kids picked painting this time and had a blast. We cut up some sponges I bought a couple of years ago to paint with and our son wanted water colors so he practiced his painting skills and blending colors. They did make quite a bit of mess and we had to talk about how we behave while we paint but overall it was a success.

 

Puppy damage…

 

One unexpected thing that came up this week was some damage our puppy did to our wall. My husband patched and repainted this spot masterfully a couple of weeks ago but our puppy, being the crazy dog that he is, ran into the wall again and dented it with his gigantic bony elbow.  He is incredibly observant and noticed right away that the wall was slightly different so he investigated it and discovered he could peel back a section to chew on. Seriously. He did this while I was dealing with a kid “emergency” and he was not the least bit remorseful. In fact he tore another chunk off as soon as I wasn’t looking. I am really thankful that my husband is able to repair minor drywall damage and we do not have to pay someone to do it.  We have saved so much money doing small repairs ourselves and Mr. Oscoey has gotten better over the years and now you can barely tell that it was repaired. I highly recommend that you learn how to do minor house repairs like this so that you aren’t paying big bucks to have it fixed.

 

Overall the week was super frugal and we hardly bought anything besides necessary groceries like milk, fruit and some small key ingredients for recipes. I am excited to write up our end of the month recap later this week so look for it on the blog!

 

The Uber Frugal Month Challenge is almost over but how are you being frugal in your every day life?

 

 

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 2

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 2

Well dear readers, week 2 of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge went off the rails a little bit. We had a busy week with sick kids and another family member was ill so I have not done the last 4 or 5 daily tasks from […]

Gardening Goals for 2018

Gardening Goals for 2018

Last week I posted a sort of list for our financial goals for 2018. Today I wanted to lay out some goals we have for our garden.  We learned a lot last year about where the best light is for our small vegetable patch and […]

A List of Sort of Financial Goals for 2018

A List of Sort of Financial Goals for 2018

Usually this time of year I start looking over our finances for the year, project our income a year ahead and start setting some goals for the year. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because I am not great at following through with them but I am good at setting some goals for our finances for the next year and achieving a reasonable number of them. This year however everything is up in the air. I am attempting to go back to work in the next couple of months and I am not sure of what my final salary will be. Since I am a pretty precise planner and a little suspicious of counting on future income that may not exist I am hesitant to put numbers down for some of the goals I have in mind. My job search has been pretty wide and I have time so I am making sure that I find something I will love and is a good fit.

 

That being said, everyone should review their “numbers” at the end of the year and formulate a rough outline of where you want your finances to head in the next year.  

 

I can’t emphasis this enough. One of the best things I did for our finances was to start looking ahead towards the end of the year (and beyond) and plan out roughly where our money would go for the year.  Originally most of our goals were about paying down our debt but now that most of that has been paid off and we have moved into a bigger house needing constant work I focus on planning out our house/garden projects, how much we will put into savings and how we are going to pay off our remaining debt.

 

Last year when I sat down and looked things over our goals consisted of paying off our car (check), paying off our credit cards (check, sort of), and putting a bunch of money into savings (not so great). We also planned on several smaller house projects and the gigantic one of putting up a fence so that dogs and kids could roam free.

 

Our gigantic fence project was completely derailed by the cutting down of more trees that were extra expensive and by the water pipe that burst in our front yard in the early fall. We did however redo our pantry, replace our entire chimney cap, update the main bathroom, paint some walls/windowsills that badly needed it, replace light fixtures for ones that use less energy, buy a fridge for the garage, purchase garden supplies to grow our own food and paint our son’s closet. Whew. It looks like a lot when I write that all out! Most of our projects were very small and done on the cheap over a weekend or two. We had two of the 5 trees taken down that needed to be removed for safety. We chose the two worst ones and I am really glad we took care of it. One of them was very close to falling and would have hit our house directly in the center causing a large amount of damage.  The three remaining trees are so close together that they have to be taken out all at once since their branches are intertwined.

 

Dangerous tree chopped!

 

Our expenses for next year will change dramatically when I get a job and with school costs for all three kids (independent of the job). I am still not quite sure what the final numbers will be. Needless to say, I am a little more hesitant to set firm goals this year with so many changes looming.

I am a firm believer in setting some goals you know you can achieve by following your plan, some goals that are just enough out of reach that you have to consciously work at them and some goals that are a challenge and require regular sacrifice and ingenuity to achieve.

 

For next year our tentative goals are:

 

1. Pay off the remaining balance on our student loan.

This goal is one of our easy ones, as long as we stick to the plan! I set up our payments at the beginning of 2017 so that our student loan will be paid off by December of 2018 so as long as we continue our automatic payments we should achieve this one! My stretch goal is to pay off our student loan by the end of April with our tax return but it isn’t set in stone yet.

2. Pay off our credit cards.

We met our goal of paying off our credit cards and keeping them paid every month for most of 2017 but we ended up choosing to put the water pipe on our credit card since it came up unexpectedly and we had already used our yearly home improvement funds for other projects.  Yes, we could have used our emergency fund for it but with so many uncertainties coming up at the start of the year we decided to take on the debt. We should meet this goal for sure by mid-year or sooner if we apply ourselves and put all of my excess salary towards it.

3. Bulk up our emergency fund.

Sadly our emergency fund is a little lighter than we would like at the end 2017.  We had a lot of large expenses and focused on paying down debt versus saving so we did not put as much in there as I would have liked. Our goal is to save up at least one more month’s worth of money in our general emergency fund next year. Ideally we would save up two months worth but with everything else that would be our stretch goal for sure!

4. Invest as much as possible!

Yes, this is a very vague goal! There are so many what ifs that I have no idea how much we will be able to put into our newly opened Vanguard account. I have it set up to put a small amount in there every month but I am hoping for more!

5. Continue to work on the house.

Yay, another vague goal! We do have plans to cut down the remaining three trees that need cutting in the back and building some sort of woodshed for all of the wood we will be cutting. We also need to replace our hot water heater, fix the master bathroom faucet (already have most of the parts), and add/replace fans to the bathrooms and laundry room. Everything else will have to depend on if we have enough in the budget for it and time to get it done.  We need to finish painting window trim (should already have the paint), do touch up paint on a couple of random areas, paint our daughter’s closet, and continue to replace outlets as we have time.  All of those projects are small and can be done as needed. There is also the possibility of repainting the living room but that will be very time consuming and expensive and it might take us at least one more year to get around to it. The trees, fans and hot water heater are our priority for next year for sure!

 

Puppy chewed deck boards that need replacing at some point.

 

I have way more ideas and what if goals in my head but for now these five goals will have to do! I am excited for next year. We met a lot of our goals last year and have been working hard at reducing our spending, being mindful of what we buy and trying reduce our food waste. I will be growing another garden in 2018 and my mother-in-law gave me a bunch of seeds for Christmas so I won’t have to buy many this year.

 

What are your goals for next year?

 

 

How we Avoid Birthday Present Overgiftingitus

How we Avoid Birthday Present Overgiftingitus

When my oldest daughter turned one many years ago she was inundated with so many gifts they filled a small kiddie pool. She was the first grand kid on my side and her dad has a large family plus being the first child of our […]