Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Highlights

Every evening at dinner, we all go around the table & do our highlights of the day. Today was absolutely filled with highlights, so I know it was a great day. :-) Probably my favorite day with the kids since we moved.

We got up this morning (no alarm - so blissful!) & after breakfast, Nick & I went to Rite Aid. He heard about Black Friday shopping at school, & got super excited to shop & "find deals". Once the Rite Aid ad came out, he set off circling all of the "deals" he wanted to pick up. His list included: a new sponge for his bath, Cheez Its, Cherios (we don't typically have cereal at the house), a stuffed bear, & goldfish crackers. :-) We got some fantastic deals at Rite Aid today. After subtracting the price of a gift card (which I'd already planned to combine with a Black Friday deal for some needed jeans at the Gap), we paid just under $1 after rewards. We got tons of household stuff (although, I managed to avoid the teddy bear. :-))

Here's my mini shopper. :-)

We headed out to Santa Cruz after the shopping, & picked up lunch at Subway. After lunch, the boys played games, ate ice cream, & enjoyed the gorgeous day.

My big boy even went on the Giant Dipper with me!

After Santa Cruz, we drove to Capitola, where I promptly fell in love with the town, & decided that when we're rich, we'll buy another vacation house there. :-) It reminded me of a California version of our vacation house on the Oregon coast. Fabulous!

Does it get any better than this? We came home, & I made tacos & guacamole (avocados from our tree in the back) & M made pomegranate martinis. Life is good. :-)

Tomorrow I'll be back to talk about Thanksgiving, & our plans for December.

How was your day? Did you spend it getting deals, or did you have other activities planned? What's your favorite beach town?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So much to be grateful for!

I'm working from home today, trying to wrap up some last minute projects before my two days off this week. As I was walking the boys to school this morning (camp, technically), I was thinking of all of the many, many things I am grateful for:

  • My family. I was raised in a very supportive & happy home, & know how important it was to have parents that instilled confidence in me, as well as modeled an extremely healthy marriage. Although my parents didn't have much money, they encouraged me to work hard at school, and save money for college. There wasn't any question as to whether I would attend - it was understood. 
  • My husband. We have had plenty of challenges in our marriage. We got married when M was 40, and a bachelor. He was used to being a very independent guy. We survived having two kids very close in age, a move, new jobs, and I can honestly say that our marriage has never been better. Now that he doesn't travel - parenting is so much easier! I feel so, so very blessed to have a marriage to someone who is my best friend.
  • My children. I get all emotional just thinking about how lucky I am to have them. They are hilarious & adorable, & full of child-like discovery & fun. I was convinced that I wanted two girls, but I wouldn't trade these two fabulous boys for anything in the world. I love being the mother of two little guys.
  • My health. It's been a very challenging year, but my health is back on track & I feel extremely grateful that I am at a point where I can self-manage most of the symptoms. I've made lifestyle changes, but I'm embracing them, rather than spending time feeling sad about it.
  • Work. Starting at a new place has been pretty trying for me, but I feel like I'm settling in a bit. The role is well suited to me, and the employer is fantastic. Great perks, great compensation, & I'm close enough to meet M for lunch when our schedules line up. Love that. Oh, & there's a soft serve ice cream machine in my building. ;-) Not sure if that's a perk or a risk to my waistline.
  • California. This move has pushed me out of my comfort zone, and there have been many challenges along the way, but today, walking in the sunshine, & picking fruit and vegetables to share with friends tomorrow? I'm truly happy to be here.

My crew on the ride to camp this morning. Oh, & did I mention that school is a little over a block from our house? Such a blessing.

I hope to be online over the weekend a bit, updating my November goals, planning for December, as well as 2014. 

And, a very happy (early) Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm constantly inspired by how other people work towards their goals (financial & otherwise). You keep me motivated & on track!

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday night chit chat

We had a great & productive Sunday around our house. Ran errands with the kids, went to an open house, picked persimmons for our Thanksgiving party we're attending (they specifically asked for fresh persimmons from our yard), a run/bike ride with the kids, yoga this morning, & wine + laughter with M tonight. A great day. :-) I wish we didn't have to work tomorrow - the boys are out of school all week. They'll be at a camp Monday-Wednesday, but we have Thursday & Friday. Both M & I are on call over the holidays (the downside of being the new employees), so fingers crossed nothing comes up.

Last year at this time, we were in Hawaii! Thinking fondly of our fabulous trip. We were just talking today about our 10 year plan, & it definitely still includes relocating (part-time, most likely) to Hawaii. Can't wait! :-)

Thanks, as always to Carla for hosting the Chit Chat!

  • Reading: "Worth the Weight", on my Kindle. Overall, it's pretty good, for a free book. :-) 
  • Listening to: "Monster" by Eminem & Rihanna. What can I say? It's stuck in my head? 
  • Watching: Arthur, with the kiddos.
  • Cooking/Baking: I made: homemade bread, chocolate chip cookies, & two kinds of pizza over the weekend.
  • Happy you accomplished this week: I wrapped up a few big work projects, which is great, since the next six weeks will be our busy of the year. Yikes. I also picked most of the persimmons, picked up gifts for our giving tree gifts, and purchased the supplies for our contribution to the Thanksgiving party.
  • Looking forward to next week: Thanksgiving, & two days off! It's been a long time since I've had no vacation days. ;-) 
  • Thankful for today: So thankful for my hilarious kids. They have finally discovered the electric keyboard they received last year for Christmas, & are making all kinds of "interesting" songs. ;-) 
  • Bonus Question: When do your Christmas/Holiday Decorations go up? - After Thanksgiving sometime!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Why I love weekends

The freedom . . . precious freedom! :-) On weekdays, I get up at 5:30 (six if I'm really lazy) & try to get to work by 7. I leave work at 4, head home, pick up the kids at 5:00, start dinner, & help with homework. After dinner, it's bath time, laundry, dishes, & packing lunches for the next day. Basically, all of the normal mom/family tasks.

Weekends look similar, but with so much schedule flexibility! I love it. :-)

Both boys have play dates today (one is over right now - three loud boys at once! Oh my :-)), so that should be interesting. I've made chocolate chip cookies for hungry boys to snack on.

Other than that, here's what I'm hoping to accomplish today:

  • Make a menu plan for the next couple of weeks
  • Do yoga
  • Go for a walk or run
  • Do my arms workout
  • Run to Osh Kosh to return a pair of pants, pick up a fleece for Sam, & purchase a gift for our giving tree family.
  • Import all of my contacts to my new phone. 
  • Make butternut squash soup & goat cheese crostini for dinner
  • Run to Costco for supplies
  • Review Christmas gifts, determine what I still need ( & how we're doing on the budget)
  • Continue 2014 financial plan
  • Hang up jewelry racks, & organize closet.

Anything I don't do today will carry over to tomorrow!

What about you? What are you up to today?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday night chit chat, and holiday photos

First up, we took some photos today, to be used on our holiday cards that we'll send around to family & friends. We always take our own - we invested in a nice digital camera when the kids were born. That said, it's no fun to not have M in the pics. :-) We clearly need to buy a tripod.

I went on a 7.5 mile run/hike up the mountain near our house. It was stunning. I'm now sore. ;-)

On the chit chat. As always, thanks to Carla for hosting. :-) 

  • Reading: - I think "The Beloved One".
  • Listening to: "Empire State of Mind". Nick loves that song!
  • Watching: Nothing, although M just found a home movie from the day after Sam was born, so we may be watching that soon. I've never seen it - we misplaced the tapes, so I'm very excited to see them!
  • Cooking/Baking: Not much. I juiced a bunch of oranges yesterday, & made homemade pizza tonight. Cheese for Nick, and a combination of leftover meatballs, chicken sausage, diced onion, cheddar with a tomato base, and fresh tomatoes on the top. Fabulous.
  • Happy you accomplished this week: So happy that our renters moved in to our house in Seattle!
  • Looking forward to next week: Looking forward to lunch with a friend tomorrow, & ordering our holiday cards.
  • Thankful for today: A great husband. Seriously, we have our moments, & he drives me crazy at times, but I love him dearly.
  • *Bonus Question: Do you believe in "good/bad luck & coincidences"? - Yes, absolutely!
How was your Sunday? Hope it was fabulous. :-) 

Weekend activities

It's our first weekend since we moved to California where we don't have soccer activities. It's been very freeing. :-) Of course, the boys have soccer tryouts on Monday, so it will be short lived.

We started off our weekend with my favorite task - going through the yard & collecting all of the ripe fruit. My helper (Nick) assisted.

In the bowl we have- 12 persimmons, 9 navel oranges, & one lonely avocado. The avocado isn't quite ripe yet, but we're attempting to ripen it in a brown bag.

In other news, the month is more than half over. Yikes! Here's how I'm doing with my goals.

  1. Complete 1,000 minutes of cardio - I'm at 462 minutes, so I need to pick up the pace. I'm hoping to do a 60 minute workout today.
  2. Complete 10 strength workouts - I'm at 4. I need to focus on strength training these next couple of weeks. The older you get, the more important it is to work on maintaining your muscle mass.
  3. Complete 8 stretching workouts - Yikes, I'm at 2. Committing to doing yoga tonight. With Nick. He loves it. :-)
  4. Have 1 date night with M. - We've had several lunch dates. We cancelled our official dinner date, as both boys were sick. I'll add another lunch date to the calendar & call it good.
  5. Figure out Thanksgiving plans. - We had plans figured out, but just got invited to enjoy Thanksgiving with Michael's cousin's wife's family. ;-) We want to do a turkey trot in the morning with the kids. We were hoping to go to the boardwalk at Santa Cruz, but may have to move that to another day. I also need to figure out what to bring to the meal.
  6. Finish (almost) all of my Christmas shopping. - Mostly done! Just have a few things left that I want to order right before the holidays, as they need to be mailed & I don't want them arriving a month early. :-) 
  7. Lose 2 pounds, bringing my weight to 144. - I've lost one pound. :-) 
  8. Rent our house in Washington - Yes! They moved in yesterday!!!!!! Hurrah!!!!!
  9. List our vacation house. - *cough* Let's just say that I'm struggling quite a bit with this one. The market is soft there, so we're revisiting what makes the most financial sense. In addition to my huge emotional attachment, of course. ;-)
  10. After I get my first paycheck, build a 2014 budget. - In progress. I've added up & categorized all 2013 spending so far (that was a giant work item, since I'd slacked a bit in October) & now have a firm sense of how we will spend our money in 2014. I have my paycheck & estimated income for 2013, but M's is still varied given that he was dumping a bunch of additional money in his 401K now that he finally has a match available. His previous employer did not offer this. I also signed up for all of the benefits for both of us, & understand what that should cost.
In other news, I maxed out my 401K! Which means that my last couple of paychecks will be larger, & can be used for the holidays. This has been my method of paying for Christmas for the past ten or so years, but I wasn't sure I would hit the max this year with my gap in employment. We also spend our entire Christmas budget ($1200) on plane tickets to Portland for the actual holiday, so it was more important than ever to find a way to source the gifts without pulling from savings. More on the actual holiday spending in a follow up post.

We ran most of our errands yesterday (Costco, the produce stand, picking up a prescription, etc). I have lots of house projects to complete, need to take Nick for new shoes, and Sam is requesting a few games of Battleship. :-) If the kids cooperate, we may also try to take pictures for our holiday card.

What are you up to today? What is the weather like in your area? It's supposed to be cool and 65 here, but no rain!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

There's no such thing as a free lunch

Well, actually there is. However, it's not without its own cost. ;-) My new employer (and, M's too for that matter - we both got jobs at the same place) offers free food. . . all day long. Free breakfast in the morning, snacks, fresh fruit, coffee, smoothies, lunch, & if you happen to be working late, free dinner. I'm sure you can guess why our employer wants to feed their staff - to keep them working longer! That said, I'm very grateful. I've packed a lunch probably 85% of every work day, so it's such a nice treat to have the variety of options, the cost savings, as well as just saving time by not packing. I also feel super grateful that our employer puts a big emphasis on healthy options. The jury is still out on how much we're saving, but I'll be reporting on that soon.

There is also an onsite gym (I've been taking spinning in the morning - it's amazing), that is free. Love having a gym in such close proximity to my desk. I can actually get in a workout on 2-3 days/week before my first meeting.

That said, my first three weeks have been quite an adjustment. I was with my prior employer for my entire career (16 years, but who is counting? ;-)), and had a huge network I could tap whenever I needed advice, had questions, or just wanted to vent. I'm starting entirely from scratch in a new place with a very different culture. It's . . . unsettling. I also had one vision of what my job & team would be like, based on feedback from M about his team & environment. We work in different job disciplines, & I think it's safe to say that our teams are nothing alike.

I'm still trying to find the balance of settling in to a new place, adjusting to my new working hours, and managing the kids/family/household stuff.

Luckily, soccer ended on Saturday, & I'm very grateful to have the time back. It was a huge learning experience for me to coach, and quite a bit more work than I initially expected. Somehow, since we've moved to California, the boys have started to look more alike! I think it's the shaggy hair & tan. ;-) And yes, these are pictures of pictures, so please excuse the quality.

In other news, I got my first paycheck last Friday, so I'm busily tallying up our spending for 2013, predicting our final budget totals for the year, setting the budget for 2014 and just generally getting our lives back in order.

And, we've rented out our house in Washington!!!! So very excited. We're going to continue to pay for the yard service, & then pay a fee to the property management firm, but we will roughly break even each month. So excited to have that settled. Our renters move in over the weekend.

I apologize for my absence as I try to find time to get everything done!

What is one thing you are grateful for today? For me, the gorgeous fall that we are enjoying, and the relief of knowing our house is rented. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

November goals

Posting twice in two days - a recent record! :-)

Here we go - it's time for November goals:

  1. Complete 1,000 minutes of cardio
  2. Complete 10 strength workouts
  3. Complete 8 stretching workouts
  4. Have 1 date night with M.
  5. Figure out Thanksgiving plans.
  6. Finish (almost) all of my Christmas shopping.
  7. Lose 2 pounds, bringing my weight to 144.
  8. Rent our house in Washington
  9. List our vacation house.
  10. After I get my first paycheck, build a 2014 budget.

And, because no post is complete without a picture, here's my lemon harvest from a few weeks ago. There was a lot of juicing involved!

What are your goals for November? I still need to recap October, and start planning for 2014, but one step at a time. :-)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday night chit chat

As always, thanks to Carla for hosting!

I've now completed my second week of work at my new job, & it's still exhausting. ;-) I'm getting up and leaving for work early (7 ish), while M gets the kids breakfast & off to school. I'm trying to leave work at 4:30 every day, so I can pick up the kids by 5. So far, so good, but it's a mad rush out the door, and back in the evenings. I've been eating breakfast at work (provided by my employer) every day, as well as the free lunches & snacks. Hopefully we'll start to see a reduction in our grocery bill.

And, a few pictures of my little guys, ready for Halloween!

Now, on to my chit chat! :-)
  • Reading: I think it's called the Queen Gene? It's on my Kindle, so I rarely look at the titles once I'm passed the first page.
  • Listening to: The sound of the washing machine, & a kid slashing in the tub. :-)
  • Watching: Absolutely nothing. We canceled cable when we moved, & haven't looked back.
  • Cooking/Baking: Not much today. I took Nick to the outlet malls to return a couple of things, do a little Christmas shopping, & to buy the next size up in: pants, underwear, socks, & pajamas for Sam. He's grown at least an inch & a half since we moved! Yesterday, I made three batches of this homemade pizza dough. It's my favorite yet. I also made two batches of pumpkin muffins - one with chocolate chips (for the kids), one without for M. I also made & froze persimmon jam, with all of the fruit that I've pureed. Last night we had meatball pizza with gouda. Tonight I made pizza again since we got home late - chicken sausage with parmesan. Yum!
  • Happy you accomplished this week: I survived another week of work, ordered the trophies for our end of season soccer party (that's been haunting me), handed off a couple of work projects, & generally had a balanced week with working out, etc.
  • Looking forward to next week: Coaching my last soccer practice & game! It's been a huge commitment, that's for sure. :-) Also, we think our house in Washington will be officially rented. Cannot wait!
  • Thankful for today: I'm so grateful that we're living near a gorgeous nature preserve. It's less than 1/2 a mile from our house, & I enjoy hiking, walking, running, & biking there whenever possible. Loved this picture from my hike yesterday - don't know if you can see it, but a giant, lone palm tree is framed within the branches of the other tree.

  • Bonus Question: Describe your "perfect pizza". - I *love* pizza. I have lots of favorites. A super greasy pepperoni pizza from my hometown, or a taco pizza. A good Islander always hits the spot (Canadian bacon & pineapple). Yum!

    I need to find time to post this week - I really want to recap my October, set some November goals, and get back on a regular schedule. *fingers crossed that this is the week!*
    I've been absent from reading my favorite blogs as well, but hope to be back this week.