Friday, January 30, 2015

A positive spiral

Now, normally a spiral is used to describe a negative event/series of events, but in this case, I'm feeling the opposite. Let me explain. One of my goals of 2015 was to focus more on the positive (ESPECIALLY at work), and do a better job of staying positive, managing my stress, and just generally enjoying work more. Now, this is no small feat. My job is very demanding, there are a lot of people every day with a lot of demands, and there's enormous revenue impact that I'm balancing at all times. I also work with others who tend to be very stressed. There are seven people in my personal office (we're short on space ;-)), and sometimes it just feels like a box of stress. Here's what I've seen so far:

Improved Work Enjoyment:
I've been doing a very good job of staying relaxed at work. Not perfectly, but an enormous improvement over the past year. And, you know what? I actually am starting to enjoy work?! For the first time since I started last October. I don't hate my job!

More Gym Time:
The desire to stay relaxed at work has also motivated me to start working out in the mornings a few days before I go to work, which nicely helps to manage my stress. See the positive spiral there? I feel healthier, more energetic, and obviously it's good for my health.

Positive Impact on Peers:
The more my attitude changes, the more I notice that it reduces the overall stress in the office, and benefits me plus everyone around me. When my peers start to complain about something that's bothering them, I listen, but I don't get involved in the stress.

Better Decisions:
I had two stressful encounters this week. I handled both of them better than I ever would have considered last year. Because I was more aware of the situation, I remained calm & thought through my choices, rather than responding with emotion.

Happier at Home:
Obviously, being happier & less stressed at work means I'm happier when I get home. I'm able to be a better parent, and lately I've been talking to the kids a lot about how keeping your emotions in check means that you make better decisions. I can actually now be (somewhat!) of an example of this, rather than all talk.

More Time:
Maybe because I'm not wasting time at work managing my own stress, I find I'm more efficient & have time to accomplish things. Or, because my head is not caught up in dealing with a stress spiral, I have more mental bandwidth to accomplish other things. All I know is that I feel like I have more free time right now, and it's glorious.

Positive Outlook:
Honestly, I just feel very positive about life, and my ability to change things (my weight, work, my life) & it's really liberating.

On that note, TGIF! So excited to spend time with the kids this weekend. We have our usual array of sporting events, plus the Big Game on Sunday. Go Seahawks! :-)

What about you? How are you managing your stress? What are the benefits you notice, or side effects when you're not able to manage your stress? Which team are you cheering for on Sunday? (I promise to only slightly judge if it's the Patriots ;-))

Thursday, January 29, 2015

February Goals

Can't wait for a new month, and new goals!! We're just closing in on January, and it's almost time to start fresh. :-)


  • Meet with financial planner
  • Figure out boys college accounts (potentially the Utah 529 plan - contingent upon our meeting with a financial planner).
  • Stick to our budget
  • Hand off all tax paperwork by 2/10, to qualify for the "early bird" discount from our accountant
  • Figure out boys birthday parties
  • Keep working with both boys on responsibility, friendship, & citizenship
  • Get my youngest to try two new foods.

  • Lose 2 pounds
  • Track my food/exercise
  • Run 20 miles
  • Complete 700 minutes of cardio
  • Complete 10 strength workouts & 8 stretching workouts

  • Revamp my meeting schedule. We have an organizational shift, so some people are moving onto a new team, and I'm getting additional staff.
  • Work out 8 weekday mornings

Giving back
  • Volunteer at school at least once, log my hours (my work will donate money in exchange)
  • Pick & donate all fruit we can't eat to nonprofit
  • Sort through my closet. Donate, sell, toss.
  • Plan/book date night with M
  • Do something social with a friend. Maybe a hike.
  • Read 4 books.
  • Try a new recipe (with a focus on something that my youngest will actually eat)

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in February? 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Weekly Spending Report - 1/19-1/25/15

As you can tell, we do the vast majority of our spending on the weekends, and we had Monday off this week. It was also our turn to bring snacks to a few events, and a spendy week overall.

  • Monday -
    • $16 - Safari Run, entertainment for the kids. A huge waste, thanks to a groupon I bought that didn't list the fine print. 
    • $312.65 - soccer uniforms
    • $107.17 - registration for a half marathon at the end of May
  • Tuesday -
    • No spend day
  • Wednesday -
    • No spend day
  • Thursday -
    • $1032 into the boys college savings accounts
  • Friday -
    • No spend day
  • Saturday -
    • $4.65 - produce stand. Snacks for soccer & basketball
    • $8.20 - Trader Joes. Snacks for soccer & basketball
    • $128.27 - Costco, groceries.
    • $9.78 - Costco, birthday gift for a kids party. Likely will go back, as M didn't know that I'd already picked something up.
  • Sunday
    • $7 - car wash
    • $17.08 - Uhaul. We needed more propane for the barbecue
    • $12 - back to the produce stand for our normal weekly stuff (radishes, kale, Persian cucumbers, a couple of pomegranates, & wheat lavosh bread)
    • $12.77 - back to Costco. They were out of a few things the day before
    • $31.21 - gas
    • +$69.16 - paypal, ebay sale
    • $6.65 - postage for said ebay item
Total spend for the week (after taking into account the ebay sale) was $1636.27. Yikes! Although, $1032 of that was planned for college fund. My goal is to put $2500 into the boys college fund this year, so that was a large chunk of the planned yearly spending.

What about you? How are you doing on your weekly spending?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sometimes it's the little things

Every weekend, I have an internal struggle with myself. We have four mature fruit trees that are currently producing (Valencia oranges, mandarins, another smaller orange variety, and lemons). While I love to bake, and we certainly eat what we can, it's not enough. Once a month or so, I'll juice the fruit, or process in my vitamix & save the fruit. But, it's STILL not enough. So, I have all of this guilt that gorgeous fruit is wasted in my yard.

I've tried several time to post the fruit on my neighborhood list serve, but got no takers. There are too many people with their own overgrown fruit trees. ;-) However, yesterday I discovered a woman in my neighborhood who takes the donated fruit, turns it into jam, sells it, and donates the money to a nonprofit that funds trade based education in South America. Love it!

I love that I don't have to feel guilty, that I can donate the fruit knowing that it's going to a good cause, and that I won't create additional waste.

A super small thing, but it's making me very happy lately. In the meantime, I'll continue to use up as much fruit as I can, and wonder why the avocados that we had last winter, still haven't shown signs of being ready for picking this year. A colder fall, perhaps?

I had a little bit of an emotional day yesterday (parenting - it's not without its challenges, is it? ;-)), so tell me something small that's making you happy today!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Menu Plan Monday

I'm happy to report that we've been doing a much better job of eating our leftovers & minimizing food waste! Woohoo for progress!

Here's what's on the menu for the week:

  • Monday - Late basketball practice & late night calls, so double whammy. I think I'll defrost a pre-made casserole that I froze a while back, & heat it up. It's the Giada Chicken Pastina casserole, & it's delicious. 
  • Tuesday - Taco Tuesday, with tortilla chips & homemade guacamole on the side
  • Wednesday - Leftovers
  • Thursday - Spaghetti & meatballs (all from the freezer)
  • Friday - Late basketball practice, so something quick & easy. Grilled chicken (freezer) + pasta & salad.
  • Saturday - Chicken marsala casserole
  • Sunday - Superbowl! I think I'll use a Groupon for pizzas. :-)

What about you? What's on the menu plan this week?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It's the weekend!

I'm so very happy that it's Saturday! I also received my bonus yesterday, so I've accomplished one of my January goals, and maxed out my 401K for the year! My paychecks will be larger each month, so I'll need to ensure I'm appropriately funneling our extra money to our savings account.

Here's what's happening today:

  • Two soccer games, and a basketball game. Go big, or go home. ;-)
  • A fun dinner, as I'll have more time to cook: blackened tilapia, rice, salad, & balsamic roasted baby carrots. Plus a fun drink! 
  • I had a great run in the sunshine! It's currently 72 degrees outside. Wow! Is it really January?
  • We looked at a house down the street that had just come on the market. It's listed at $2.4M, and will easily sell for over that, and we hated everything about it. At least we're not tempted to spend the money? ;-)
  • I have about a zillion tax related things to take care of, for our accountant.
  • Laundry. Oh, and some more laundry. With two kids in sports, plus regular wear & such, we' have a boatload of laundry each week.

And, for tomorrow! 
  • Soccer carpool
  • Homemade pizza
  • Yoga (MUST DO!)
  • Menu planning
  • Schedule planning for the week ahead
  • Running (in the sun)
  • Some budgeting work
  • And, maybe a little kitchen time. Muffins & cookies to stock the freezer.

How about you? How is your weekend turning out? Hope it's great!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pushing yourself, personally

I posted about trying to push myself with my running/fitness yesterday, but another kind of "pushing myself" has also been on my mind lately. We all have strengths and weaknesses, in our personal and professional lives. My current role is pushing me significantly, in both good and bad ways. On the work life balance side, that's not a good "push", but in some areas, I've definitely developed professionally more in this role than in the last five years combined.

As a result of all of this, sometimes uncomfortable, growing, I've also started to become more self aware. My job is extremely stressful, and I often get caught up in that stress. I get frustrated with my peers, I develop a negative attitude, and I get overwhelmed. None of those things are helping me manage my own stress, and they also create a negative attitude for my employees and peers. I work with people who are very different from me, and that can be challenging. But, it's also an opportunity to learn and develop different skills to handle those divergent personality types.

One of my big goals? To work hard to maintain a positive (but realistic) attitude at work, to minimize/quit the complaining/bitching/moaning to my peers (we all do it, but I think if I cut it out, it will be reduced by the larger group) & focus instead on the opportunities of growing myself and calmly handling challenges. It's going to be tough. I'll screw it up (often, I'm sure), but I'd like to hold myself accountable & improve over time. This ability to manage stress and stay calm and positive will benefit me tremendously at work, but will obviously be a huge benefit to my personal life as well.

It's cliched, but these uncomfortable moments, when you recognize your own growth areas can be really exciting. I'm terrified that I'm too old to change, but I know that my health (not to mention my family, friends, & coworkers) will thank me if I can improve this skill.

What about you? Is there any skill that you're actively working on improving or developing for yourself? Tips or tricks that you can share? :-) 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Learning to run

Or for me, the title should probably have a "Again" after it. I've run quite a few races before, but I easily fall out of shape after time off. It's been months since I've run regularly, so I'm starting at the beginning - again. :-)

I thought it might be helpful to share beginner tips, for those of you who are interested in running. Here are the top things I've learned since I started running.

  1. Take it slow(ly)! When I first started running, I could only do 1/4 of a mile. I set small goals for myself & eventually built up to 1 mile, 2 miles, 3 miles, etc.
  2. Set a goal, like a race! Give yourself plenty of time to train & prepare. I would recommend a 5K for a starter race. They are everywhere, and completing a 5k (even for a beginner runner) is within range.
  3. Note your improvements. If you stick with it, you will improve. Your cardiovascular fitness will allow you to push yourself harder & farther. I personally prefer starting out my running on the treadmill, so I can note the time and distance of my run (run 1/3 of a mile at 6.0 mph, then walk 1/2 a mile at 4.2 mph, etc) Noting these details allows you to view your progress over time, which is exciting! I still remember when I broke my own 4.0 mile pace time - it was the 4th of July, I was at the beach, & it was a gorgeous day along the ocean. :-)
  4. Don't eat or drink right before you run. This sounds obvious, but a lot of people forget in a hurry to get out the door right after breakfast, or whatever. For me, two hours is the right sweet spot for food, and about 90 minutes for liquids. Your body will vary, so it will take some experimentation to get it right.
  5. Speaking of liquids, if you're anything like me, you'll really want to avoid before runs. Otherwise, being of a certain age, and a mother of two kids  . . . well, there are consequences to drinking too soon before running. ;-)
  6. Keep at it! I promise, it gets SO much easier. Right now, I'm in a very ugly phase where all of the running is hard, because I'm so out of shape. But, I know from past experience that it gets easier.
  7. The endorphins feel amazing. Seriously. Best workout high ever. I feel amazing after a great run.
  8. Running clears your head, like nothing I've ever experienced. I've come up with the best solutions to tricky problems while running. It's a great way to release stress & let your mind think clearly.
  9. Music! I must have music when I run. Others prefer silence, but I need the motivation - especially on longer runs. I download songs to a clip on MP3 player, and I've had two terrible moments with it. Once, in some weird error, the only song on my player was Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call me Maybe". Now, that alone is bad enough, but it was a 12 mile run, and that song was on repeat. It was the worst. I think M was playing an evil joke on me. Another time, I unclipped my MP3 player before all of the songs were done syncing (yes, I'm impatient like that) & I had only two songs for a 14 mile run.. . . Pitbull, "International Love" and a Nicki Minaj song that I've since blocked from memory. It was a very, very long run. ;-)
  10. Running is about your own progress. It's not about beating someone else, or competing. It's about improving your own time or distance, or just making it easier. Try to keep that in mind when you see the insanely fast people passing you. 
  11. Wear the right gear. You don't need expensive stuff, but a good sports bra, nonchafing pants/shorts and shirt, plus decent socks and running shoes. If you're running for a longer distance, have any areas that might rub together, or are running in hot temperatures, I highly recommend Body Glide. It's goes on like a deodorant, but it is clear. It will keep your body from chafing. I only wear it if I'm going out for 6+ miles, but it's a lifesaver.
  12. Also, running will make you hungry. If you are also trying to lose weight, you'll need to track your calories & eat enough to ensure you're fueling yourself, without erasing all of the calorie burning from the running.
  13. Cross train. Seriously, you can't/shouldn't run every day, especially as a beginner. I prefer walking, swimming, biking, or the elliptical on non-running days.
  14. Do weight bearing exercises. Overall core strength will make the running easier. Especially on your back - I find this to be a bigger problem as I get older.
  15. Take rests between runs. It's a lot of effort, and your body needs to recover. 

That's all I can think of. I'm not an expert (of any kind), but running is one of my favorite things to do. It's also extremely hard to start again, but I know it's worth it. I run because it helps me maintain a healthy weight, makes me feel good, keeps me in shape, and makes me feel like an athlete.

Here's photographic evidence - the end of a 12 mile run (at the beach) & I'm thrilled. Look at that smile! (This is from a year or so ago).

Do you have any secret fitness goals? Maybe some that you're not even admitting to yourself? I'll admit that I have a bucket list, and secret goal to run a marathon before I turn 40. I have no idea if it's in the realm of possibility, but I just signed up to run a half marathon with a friend in May. That's phase one. I'd really like to consider the idea of pushing myself, and trying a marathon. Sometimes, just thinking about your goal is helpful. I'm not sure what I'm afraid of, other than failure. Which, is admittedly pretty scary, right? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Weekly spending report - 1/12-1/18/15

Tracking & reporting on my weekly spending has been very helpful in the past, so I'm trying to bring that good habit back! Last week was a great week (I actually made money, due to low spending & eBay sales). I wasn't as lucky this week. ;-) I also made time for a date with Sam, and there were no good kids movies at the place I have a groupon (of course), so we went to another theater. I always forget how expensive it is to go to the cinema!

  • Monday - no spend day
  • Tuesday - $26.47 on groceries at Costco. I had an insane week at work, and was basically MIA for the entire week, so my guess is M picked up a pizza and other easy dinner options. I've never seen a receipt for this, so just a guess. ;-) 
  • Wednesday - no spend day
  • Thursday - $240 - signed the boys up for a half day camp, during their week off in February. Our nanny will cover the additional half days.
  • Friday -
    • $495 - two weeks of time for our nanny
    • $71.02 - gas for one car
    • $34.04 - gas for another car
  • Saturday -
    • $10.26 - produce stand
    • $3.59 at Rite Aid for notecards for a school project, plus a mailing envelope.
    • $133.42 at Costco
    • $16.75 - lunch at Pizza My Heart, between basketball games
  • Sunday
    • +$69.19 on an eBay sale.
    • $19.64 at Trader Joes. Mostly, snacks for the four events we're 
    • $5.70 at Rite Aid. Snacks for the movies, plus a Valentine's Day item.
    • $6.79 at AMC for popcorn
    • $19.98 at AMC for movie tickets
    • $1.70 - produce stand, again. We forgot to pick up a couple of things for dinner.
Total spend for the week = $995.53. Out of that, $735 was childcare, so an unavoidable expense. There were some splurges on this long weekend (namely, lunch out & a trip to the movies). The rest of the expenses were pretty standard weekend.

How about you? Are you tracking your weekly spending? How are you doing? 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Menu Plan Monday

It's so nice to have a bonus day, to accomplish all of my house stuff, and even have a little time for relaxing. ;-)

Here's what's on the menu this week!

  • Monday - Oven baked risotto (with chicken & goat cheese). We'll be eating early, as the boys have basketball practice.
  • Tuesday - Tacos, with homemade guacamole
  • Wednesday - I have a work dinner. M & the kids will have leftover homemade pizza
  • Thursday - Spaghetti bolognese (sauce from the freezer) with garlic bread.
  • Friday - Homemade chicken taquitos, with guacamole
  • Saturday - We have five games between the boys (three futsal, two basketball) on Saturday, so I think we'll be using one of my Groupons for takeout pizza. ;-)
  • Sunday - The boys have soccer practice & a birthday party to attend, but I'll likely ask M to make rice to go with kebabs from the freezer.
I think that's about all for us. What about you? Anything yummy on the menu this week?

Also, because posts without pictures are boring. . . my little basketball player.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mini basketball players and a long weekend

After a VERY long week at work, I'm grateful for the long weekend! The boys have been busy with basketball & Futsal (indoor soccer) & had their first games yesterday. They both played well (considering how few times they've ever played) & had a ball.

Love these guys! So, what have I been up to this weekend? Here's a mish mash of things, in no particular order. ;-)

  • A quick run yesterday, while the boys played wall ball. I ran the track.
  • A longer run today with M, while another mom took the boys to soccer practice. M is much faster than me, so I'm SORE!
  • Push ups. I'm doing a 30-a-day challenge in January, and missed a few days, so I'm catching up. My arms are also sore. ;-)
  • M barbecued burgers yesterday, & they were amazing.
  • It's 68 degrees today - it most certainly doesn't feel like January!
  • My team is going to the Superbowl again - go Seahawks!!!
  • I have pizza dough in the fridge & I'm making homemade pizza tonight. Yum!
  • I took Sam on a "Mom/Sam" date today. Nick & I are very similar people, so I find it easy to relate to him. Sam is a tougher nut to crack, and you need to expend more energy to be close to him. I'm trying to dedicate more time to both boys, on their own. We saw Big Hero 6, which was super cute.
  • I sold another item on eBay today (a brand new FitBit, which was a gift to us). Yeah! All of our money is going into the boys college accounts.

And with that, I'm off. It's almost happy hour here, where M &  I have a glass of wine while I make dinner.

Hope you are all having a great weekend!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weekly spending report (1/5-1/11/15)

I'm trying to get better about tracking our weekly spending (outside of bills) - this just reflects our discretionary spending

  • Monday - 
    • $24.96 - gas
  • Tuesday - 
  • Wednesday
    • $.50 at Target for two packages of Christmas cards
    • $12.22 at Target for a birthday gift for a kids party N went to.
    • $1.99 for a cleaner for our stove
  • Thursday
    • No spend day
  • Friday 
    • No spend day
  • Saturday - 
    • -$92.42 at Costco. Returned a birthday gift M bought for the boys last week (we researched it on Amazon, and it had weak reviews). Also, returned a pair of pants that I got N for Christmas, but didn't fit.
    • $141.03 - Costco, groceries. We needed coffee, parmesan cheese, and a few other things, but this is just over our normal weekly amount. We get most of our produce, dairy, and meat at Costco. 
    • $6.56 - grocery store to take advantage of a sale on pasta & risotto

  • Sunday:
    • $4.99 - grocery store (picked up fish sticks for the kids dinner. Trying to expand the horizons of my youngest. ;-) 
    • $7.49 - produce stand for our normal weekly stuff - wheat lavosh bread, mini cucumbers, radishes, & kale
    • $13.51 - Rite Aid, birthday gift for a kids party S is going to next week.
    • -$214.47. Sold an old iPad & Surface on eBay.
This might be the only week where my weekly spending will be a negative number, thanks to a return & a couple of eBay sales. In total, we were positive $93.64 for the week. That said, the $214 in eBay profits will be put into the boys college accounts, which is what we agreed to do with any snowflake money this year. 

What about you? Do you track your weekly spending? How did you do last week?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Menu Plan Monday

Here's what's on the menu for the week. In shocking news - we stuck completely to our menu last week!! I'm not sure that's ever happened before. ;-)

  • Monday - Tilapia - maybe this blackened tilapia recipe, or this baked tilapia recipe). We have a giant bag of tilapia taking up a bunch of space in the freezer, so I need to start using it. It was a grocery purchase mishap. I meant for M to get breaded tilapia, which is a quick & easy dinner to bake up. He bought the uncooked filets, which are more challenging for me to prepare during the week. But, they are expensive & healthy, so time to start using them up!
  • Tuesday (I have a work dinner) - I will defrost beef kebabs for M and the kids, and M will make rice to go with it.
  • Wednesday - Spaghetti bolognese (freezer) with garlic bread
  • Thursday (again, work dinner :-(() - M & the kids will have leftover kebabs & rice
  • Friday - Pesto shrimp pasta (shrimp & homemade pesto from the freezer)
  • Saturday - Grilled chicken (freezer) + Greek Quinoa Salad
  • Sunday - Homemade pizza (using kebabs, if we have any left, or grilled chicken & goat cheese)
What about you? How did you do with your menu plan last week? What's on the menu for this week?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Simple Sunday

I started off my morning by taking five boys to soccer. That was quite the carpool. ;-) While they ran around the gym learning the finer points of Futsal, I ran around the track. Until I got disturbed by work - again. Second time with an urgent demand this weekend. Super not fun. :-(

After all of the soccer drop offs, I made lunch for my hungry troops, showered, did a work call, and ran some errands for the week.

Now I'm *hoping* to read my book for a bit. I have a crazy work schedule next week, so I'm trying to enjoy the weekend as much as possible. Here's what's on the agenda for the rest of the day:

  • Pushups. 30, as part of my pushup challenge.
  • Wrap a gift for a kid birthday party.
  • Make dinner - blackened tilapia & rice.
  • Pack lunches for tomorrow.
  • Work on a book report with my son. He's in third grade, so while he most definitely does his own work, he needs a bit of support from the parents. ;-) M has spent hours with him, working on his handwriting, and it's made a tremendous difference!
  • Laundry. Always. Always.
  • Fill out two parent teacher surveys.
  • Package up two eBay sales. Yes!!! I haven't done eBay in a long time, but as part of the decluttering, I had a Surface & an old iPad to sell. I made $221 between the two, and have the money earmarked for the boys college accounts. 
  • I also listed a FitBit today - new in the package, so hopefully that will get that sold next week.
  • Finalizing our summer calendar. I know it's crazy, but I have a bunch of work trips to plan (8 international trips, and a few domestic) plus a lot of family activities & camps, so I need to work through all of the details.
Other than that, M & I had a date last night. It was one of those nights where we forgot to make a reservation, everything was booked, there were no seats in the bar, the third restaurant we tried was closed, but we ended up having fun anyway. Just relaxing and hanging out together is fun. ;-) Although the restaurant we ended up in was more expensive than we had planned for. Such is life. ;-)

Okay, that's pretty much it! Fingers crossed for a little bit of relaxing time, before the dinner/homework rush begins. How about you? What are you doing this Sunday?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How are you doing with your January goals?

Now that the work craziness has started up again, my motivation gets a bit lost. I'm exhausted when I get home, so it's hard to prioritize all of my personal "stuff".

Here are the big wins so far:

  1. I've stuck to the meal plan, & we've thrown away nothing! 
  2. I've kept the spending very much in check, minus an unexpected birthday gift (kids party). While I was at Target, I picked up 2 packages of holiday cards for $.25, and a cleaning product we needed. 
Here's how I'm doing with the rest of my goals. 


  • Set up meeting with financial planner - I've had a call with the planner, but need to find a date that will work with my schedule, as well as M's. 
  • Max out 2015 401K with bonus money - this is all set up to happen later in the month.
  • Figure out boys college accounts (potentially the Utah 529 plan) - On pause, until we talk to the financial advisor. 
  • Stick to our budget - So far, so good!
  • Fund our yearly budget categories with remaining bonus money - Again, will happen later in the month.
  • Start gathering stuff for our accountant - I've made a list of documents, but haven't started. We don't have any W2s, or other tax statements yet, but I should gather up our donation receipts, etc.
  • Plan two fun family outings - We've done one (movie day). I'm also going to plan something fun for the day we have off in a few weeks. Maybe a family bowling day.
  • Figure out February week off. Looking at skiing. - We have something tentatively planned for a day in February. 
  • Get my youngest to try two new foods. - YES! He's had bolognese sauce and Italian sausage. He didn't like either one, but also didn't throw up when trying them, which is real progress.

  • Lose 2 pounds - I've lost 1.6 lbs!
  • Track my food/exercise - Yes!
  • Run 20 miles - I'm at 10 so far!
  • Complete 700 minutes of cardio - I'm at 225 minutes so far for the month.
  • Complete 8 strength workouts & 8 stretching workouts - I've already done 8 strength workouts, but zero stretching. :-( I'm doing a pushup challenge with my sister, so I've been doing that every day. 

  • Better consolidate my evening meetings - eh. Moderate success.
  • Find 2 days/week that I can work out during the day - I did this once this week, and have two mornings/week booked out.

Giving back
  • Look into volunteering at the school once in January - Nope. Haven't done it.
  • Set up charitable contribution increase - Nope.
  • Sort through our three hall closets (aka, where junk goes to die). Declutter, organize, etc. - Yes! And, we took 8 bins of stuff to the Goodwill.
  • Plan/book date night with M - Date night is this weekend!
  • Do something social with a friend. Maybe a hike. - We've talked about it, but haven't done anything yet.
  • Read 5 books. - I've read 2 so far.
  • Try a new recipe (with a focus on something that my youngest will actually eat) - I haven't made any new recipes this week - lots of eating from the fridge & leftovers!

All in all, I feel pretty good about my progress so far this month. How about you? How are you doing with your January goals? Anything you need to correct, start doing differently, or just plain start doing? :-) 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Menu plan Monday

Ahhh, a great mini break comes to a close, and it's back to work, back to school, and back to basketball & soccer. Four practices, and four games per week, between the two kids. Luckily, we did a ton of cooking during our time off - M made beef kebabs, bolognese sauce, & grilled two large packages of chicken. I made taco meat, cookies & homemade bread. This will help us get through this *fun* week, as we get back to life. ;-)

As a reminder, M makes the boys eggs & fruit most days. I eat at work, and pack the kids leftovers or sandwiches for lunches. M & I both get free lunch at work. We have salad every night with dinner.

  • Monday - Leftover beef kebabs + rice 
  • Tuesday - Leftover bolognese sauce over pasta + garlic bread
  • Wednesday - Leftover grilled chicken + rice
  • Thursday - Tacos + homemade guacamole
  • Friday - Rachel Ray's chicken marsala casserole
  • Saturday - Leftovers
  • Sunday - homemade pizza
What about you? Are you using up your leftovers & making the most of everything in your fridge? I also have a goal to get my youngest to keep trying new food, so that's always an adventure. ;-) 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Frugal fail

Happy Sunday. I hope you are all having a relaxing week. It's been a great day so far:

  • M & I went for a run this morning (the boys were carpooling to soccer practice). Sidenote - I'm SO out of shape.
  • I finally sold our tiny skis for $75 on Craigslist (woohoo!)
  • I listed an old tablet on eBay & have an iPad I'm going to list this afternoon
  • We have a fridge full of leftovers, so dinner prep should be minimal this week
  • And, we're taking the kids to the movies this afternoon with a gift card that they received in their stockings.
I also made the artisan bread recipe that Carla posted a few days ago, and it was delicious!

On to my frugal fail. Back before Christmas, I realized that we'd have a few days off with the kids, and no planned activities/sports, etc. I looked on Groupon & found a few winners. On Friday, I drove 25 minutes to one of the Groupons, only to find out that I went to the wrong kids activity place. I bought a Groupon for something with a VERY similar name, but isn't the same place. Unfortunately, the Groupon that I actually have is very limited (free play time is only available when there aren't birthday parties going on). And, since we were already there & I desperately needed to use WiFi to reply to some work emails, I ended up paying just over $40 for the kids to play for two hours. Talk about a non-frugal move!

If I had planned for the expense (and, we would have come earlier/stayed longer to offset the cost), it wouldn't have been as big of a deal. But, now I'm out the money for the Groupon, unless we can make it work after school or something, and I wasted money on an entirely different activity.

Ah, I tried. Can't win them all. Note to self - I really need to pay more attention to the details on the Groupons before I purchase!

What are some of your recent frugal wins/fails?  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy Saturday, and 2014 End of Year Net Worth

We don't have much on the agenda today, & I'm very excited about that. I have seven giant tubs ready for the donation pile! I have a bunch of decluttering to complete, plus I'd like to make cookies for the kids lunches this week.

Other tasks to complete:
  • Yoga
  • Go for a run
  • Laundry/sheets
  • Menu plan
  • Clean freezers/fridges
  • Work in the yard
  • Figure out our plans for our February trip.
Okay, and onto our 2014 net worth. . . 

I've been tracking our end of the year net-worth since 2010, and it's nice to see the progress. Our net worth is up about $1.1M since we began tracking, and our net worth is up 43.8% since this time last year. Woohoo! What are the big differences? An increase in our Seattle house value, a decrease in our vacation house value (although, offset by the previous), continuing to pay down our property loans, and a sizable lift in our 401Ks.

Some of our stock vested, and now belongs to us, so it's considered in our net worth. I don't count company as an asset until it's in our brokerage account.

Our 401Ks continue to grow, and we max them out each year.

How about you? Do you track your net worth? How did you do with your net worth in 2014?

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Fitness Recap

I always set big goals for my fitness, as I'm one of those people who is either a sloth or highly motivated to do a 10 mile run. Depending on the day. ;-) Setting goals helps me push myself.

Here's how 2014 played out, from a fitness perspective:

  • Weight - I did lose weight (9 lbs), but then gained it back. One of my goals for 2015 is to end the year at my low weight, and not go through this awful cycle of losing in the spring & summer, only to put the weight right back on at the end of the year. For me, it has to do with not being able to run/walk outside in the dark, and a super busy work season. Combined with a general lack of motivation at the end of the year.
  • Running - I finished a half marathon, as I'd hoped. I have it on the goals list again this year! I'd like to do a variety of runs this year.
  • Cardio - I barely eeked out the last few minutes, but finished with 10,005 minutes of cardio. It took a 6 mile walk yesterday in the 30 degree weather to accomplish this. ;-) 
  • Strength - I finished with 77 strength workouts. 
  • Stretching - a pitiful 32 stretching workouts. Definitely an area for improvement in 2015.
  • Calories - one of my goals was to track my calories every day of the year. I did it! Here's what the math shows:
Daily calorie average in 2013 - 1637
Daily calorie average in 2014 - 1578

Interesting! I'm guessing that my tracking is either incorrect (likely, given that I now "eat out" at work every day, and it's much harder to track the calories), or that my vastly increased cardio workouts in 2013 made the difference. 

And, here's a look at my monthly calories for the year. As you can see, March & June were my best months, BY FAR! June is especially impressive given that I was training hard for a half marathon. The low months were . . . well, there were a lot of them. My daily goal should be 1500 or so. 

2014 Yearly averageAverageTotal

My goals for 2015 will be to average the year out at 1500 (or below), and to be more precise with my calorie tracking. Especially with the food I eat out.

How about you? Did you have any fitness goals in 2014? How did you do? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year and too many toiletries!

We had a great NYE with the kids. I am starting to get a cold, so I was asleep at 8:30. Party animal! Even my 8 year old was up later than me. ;-)

We're off to do a family fun run this morning, & then I have a bunch of household things to accomplish today - cleaning out some closets, doing meal prep, and maybe even doing yoga! Should be a great day.

On the toiletries side, I blame Sluggy , with all of her great Rite Aid deals. ;-)

One of my goals for 2015 is to reduce my spending on toiletries, as I've stockpiled quite a bit, yet keep buying more. The boys have been out of town for a few nights (finally back!) so I've spent my time doing exciting things like: inventorying my toiletry stockpile, and cleaning closets. I'm a wild party animal, that's for sure.

Given that I know we will be moving at some point (we're renting, although we'd like to live in this house until the boys finish elementary school - that's completely dependent upon the owners), stockpiling more toiletries that we can use in a few months is not wise. We'll just have to schlep them somewhere else. Also, my current stockpile is located in an area where it's tough to see exactly what we have, which leads to overbuying of certain things (ahem, bars of soap). Anyway, I took stock of our inventory yesterday, and here's what we have. I'm hoping that buy building a concrete list, I will: reduce our need to buy more, and become more aware of exactly what we have. My toiletry budget for 2015 is going to drop down from $82/month (actual spend in 2014) to $15/month. With all of this surplus, we can do it!

Here's what we have in the stockpile:

Body stuff:

  • Sunblock - 6
  • Bars of soap - 36
  • Sunless tanner - 3 (now, don't ask me why I even have this, as I'm super pale & it never works on me. But, I just can't give up the dream of having a bit of color, I suppose)
  • Aloe gel - 2. I do, however, burn very easily, despite sunblock.
  • Body wash - 9
  • Shower sponges - 2
  • Shaving cream - 7
  • Disposable razors - 6. May donate these. Not sure why I bought them. We tend to buy nicer ones & replace the blades.
  • Blades for me - 1
  • Blades for M - 6
  • Kids body wash - 7
  • M's deodorant - 3
  • My deodorant - 1
  • Lotion - 1

Dental stuff:
  • Toothbrushes - 4
  • Toothpaste - 10
  • Floss - 3
  • Flosser replacement heads - 2
  • Mouthwash - 6
Hair stuff:
  • Shampoo - 6
  • Conditioner - 5
  • 2-in-1 shampoo - 3
  • Rubber band packages - 2
  • Conditioning treatments - 2 (again, never use these. Why do I have one, let alone 2)
Face stuff:
  • Eye makeup remover - 2
  • Night face cream - 1
  • Face makeup - 2
  • Mascara - 2
  • Eyeliner - 1
  • Face wash cloths - 3 (for my gym bag) 

So, there you have it! A bunch of excess stuff. Now I know exactly what I have, and can see which items I may want to look for on sale (bolded), as I start to run low. What about you? Do you have a good handle on exactly what's in your stockpile? Are you like me? Do you continue to buy things like body wash, bars of soap & toothpaste, even though you clearly don't need more. ;-)