Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May goals - how did I do?

Another month is gone, so it's time to look back & reflect on my progress! Tracking my goals helps me (mostly) stay focused, and remember what I'd like to accomplish each month.

1) Financial - 
  • Finish all projects for our rental house & get it listed! - Our rental house is listed, so done. 
  • Update our project & budget list for our house - we have updated the project list, but not the budget. 
  • Start new family budget for post rental house sale - yes, have a draft. I'll update once we actually have a sale price. 
  • Find one alternative cost cutting option - I ordered reusable baggies. I'll be honest & say that I don't love them. They are workable for certain foods. I'll post a full review. If nothing else, for the things they work for, I'm saving every so slightly. ;-) 
  • Sell another $100 of items on either eBay or my local Facebook swap site. - Yes! I sold $230 worth of things we don't need, including a flat screen TV, and a kids table/chairs. 
  • Finalize our decluttering & organizing in the new house - we got a lot done! There is always more work to be done, however. I'm not sure I'd describe this as "final". :-) 
2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!

  • Do a minimum of one fun activity/month with the kids. This can be family puzzle night, cooking dinner together, board games, going out somewhere, etc. - we've been spending a lot of time by the pool as a family, which is great.
  • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc. - I think this is going well, although mostly it's pool time or the occasional board game. 
  • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) - Fail. However, the kids are going to be out of town for a few days in June, so we will take advantage of free date nights then. 
  • Plan M's birthday & Father's Day - I'm working on it, but still have some things to line up. 
  • Figure out what to do for both parents (Mother's Day & Father's Day) - I solve Mother's Day, but am waiting to hear back from my mom on a good suggestion for Father's Day. 

    3) Fitness/health - Lose 4 pounds in May - I've lost 2 pounds. Progress, if nothing else! :-) I can also definitely see a difference in the toning, thanks to all of the strength training. 
    • Run 25 miles in May - I've been doing a lot more strength training this month, so I ran 10 miles. 
    • Run a 10K - yes! It was incredibly hard, but done. :-) 
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day - I'm at 3.5. Still plenty of room to improve. 
    • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio - Yes! I did 1085 minutes. 
    • Complete 6 strength workouts. - I completed 14 workouts & noticed a big improvement in my strength & overall muscle tone. 
    • Complete 6 stretching workouts. - I did 3 workouts, plus a massage + two visits to the physical therapist for limited mobility in my shoulder. 

    4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress  - I'm doing an okay job of this, but quite frankly, until I have a lead in place in Asia, this is really hard. I do evening calls 3-4 nights/week, which is not conducive to having a chance to relax. 
    • Work from home 2x this month. - Yes! 
    • Brainstorm how I would spend my time if I wasn't working. Really think creatively about what this would mean, what the challenges would be, etc. - I actually started on this, but would like to spend more time thinking about it in June. 

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
      • Try a new recipe - I did try a new salad recipe over the weekend, and it was delicious. 
      • Do something social at least once per month. - Yes, I went for a hike with a friend. The frugally winning combination of hiking + chatting. I also went to a party I won at the school auction, which was pedicures & appetizers/desserts. It was really fun & lovely as well. 
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month. - Yes! I volunteered twice this month, and have my big volunteer event coming up this afternoon. 

      Overall,I feel really good about the month. It was a nice blend of getting back into a regular workout routine, spending time with the family, & accomplishing some stuff around the house. I'm super excited about June - we have a lot of exciting things coming up.

      What about you? How did you do with your May goals? Any big wins to celebrate? 

      Monday, May 29, 2017

      A lovely family get together + finishing up the long weekend

      We had Michael's cousin & his family over last night for a barbecue, and had a great time. The weather was cool, but warm enough to be outside for a few hours. M handled most of the menu - he grilled kebabs, potatoes, tomatoes & made rice & a yogurt sauce. I made a veggie tray with hummus, as well as salad shirazi (tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper & green onion finely diced, combined with lime juice, olive oil, salt & pepper). It was all great. We had champagne by the pool while the kids played, & laughed & caught up.

      Having guests over was a good excuse to do hours & hours of yard work & patio clean up, as well as house clean up. The house is really coming along at this point, which is exciting. Not that there's not a tremendous amount of work to be done, but it does look better.

      In disappointing news, M was with the electrician/pool guy yesterday for nine hours, trying to get our pool heater installed. No good. It won't light up, which means that the gas line is not powerful enough for the new unit. The previous pool heater (it wasn't working when we bought the house) was 35 years old, and required a reduced amount of gas. Anyway, to fix it, we will need to increase our gas line, which is quite an expense. On top of the $2000 we spent on the pool heater, and the $400 we spent yesterday for the guy to come out to no avail. So frustrated!

      I slept in a bit today, & then power washed the patio furniture, as well as part of the paved outdoor area. I'm guessing the patio furniture hadn't been cleaned in 5+ years. It's a big stone/granite table & chairs that the previous owners left behind. We'll see if we can bring them back to life for a bit before we replace them with something more usable.

      I also sold a kids table & chairs set this morning for $30, so that was a nice win.

      I'm looking forward to relaxing today, and taking care of a few chores that linger. I'm planning to make goat cheese crostini & steak salad for dinner. Yum!

      What about you? How will you spend today, and what's on the menu? A special thanks to all of those who have served, or supported those who have served. Many thanks to those that make our freedom possible. 

      Sunday, May 28, 2017

      Let the long weekend commence, a menu plan & pool picture

      I've been feeling really stumped for a good menu plan lately. Uninspired, in fact. I don't mind making the same thing regularly, but need a few good basics to add to our rotation. Here's what I'm thinking about for the week ahead:

      • Friday - oven baked chicken risotto
      • Saturday - homemade calzones 
      • Sunday - having guests over for dinner. We'll have grilled tomatoes, rice with tadiq, beef kebabs, & yogurt sauce. And wine + salad. Our guests will be bringing dessert.
      • Monday - grilling either steak or fish, depending on what Costco has available. I'll also make goat cheese crostini. A long weekend favorite. 
      • Tuesday - leftover risotto
      • Wednesday - leftover calzones
      • Thursday - leftover kebabs (notice a theme about our week day menu? ;-))

      As for the long weekend, it's been fabulous so far. Yesterday I went for a two hour hike in the sunshine with a friend. The weather was warm, but not too hot. Perfect (and rare!) I also got my hair cut, which is something I try to limit to 2x/year, as it's not super cheap. I also did a bunch of chores around the house & in the yard. I feel like the patio sweeping & garden cleanup will never end. Our backyard is made of a bumpy/rock concrete, so it's difficult to keep clean. Combine that with the pool, the fact that it had been a long time since it was kept properly cleaned due to the lack of mobility of the previous owner, & the close proximity to the pool, and you have an ongoing chore. The stones are similar to this:

      And, here's a picture of my favorite part of the house, where we spend many afternoons. We've actually done a lot since this picture was taken - we've added red umbrellas, red flowers, & purchased cobalt blue planters to add color to the patio. I'll see if I can get a few updated photos to share.

      The boys also sweet talked Michael into taking them to a movie yesterday, but I stayed back & did more yard work & then read in blissful silence before bed. Small wins. :-) 

      We're having Michael's cousin & family over this evening for dinner, so it's been a good motivator to get the house in as good of shape as possible. It also means that we have quite a bit to accomplish today. Here's what's on the list:

      • Yoga
      • Clean kitchen
      • Wash all sheets/make all beds
      • Laundry
      • Sweep patio 
      • Finish weeding the front yard 
      • Make sure all bedrooms are clean (boys, I'm looking at you)
      • Clean garage freezer
      • Book a rental car for our summer vacation
      • Drop off books at the library
      • Prep the food for the party

      I think that will do it! What about you? Are you doing any of the typical Memorial Day weekend activities (barbecues, hosting guests, going to the movies)? 

      Friday, May 26, 2017

      Frugal Friday

      I am so VERY ready for the long weekend, as I'm sure many of you are. :-) It's been one of those months. . .

      Here are our frugal things for the week:

      • Threw together a quick dinner after a late soccer game on Sunday. I was really tempted to eat out, but we'd already gone out on Friday.
      • Turned the Friday dinner leftovers into another lunch (x3 people), & another dinner (x3 people).
      • Could not find shorts of any kind that I like. I'm looking for something practical, comfortable & age appropriate for hot days. I ended up cutting off a pair of jeans that are too big. Full length jeans that are too big are not cute, but for shorts, they look nice & relaxed. Saved myself at least $20, and repurposed something that would have been heading to the donation pile. 
      • Price matched several flights & got a $156 credit for future spend. I'll use that money to offset the price of my flight for my summer relay in Portland. 
      • Consolidated our laundry to save water (i.e. ran one big load vs multiple smaller loads).
      • I've been using my "reusable" ziplock bags. They are not perfect, but we are finding a few ways to use them for lunches, which cuts down on some of our waste.
      • Made (most) meals at home.
      • Although not directly for me, my parents flight to Hawaii was changed (from a mid day to a red eye!) & I called to handle the adjustments for them. They had to cut a day off of their vacation, so they were less than thrilled. I inquired about credit for the significant flight change, & was able to get them $500 for future travel. 

      In non-frugal updates:
      • Sam & Nick both had excellent player evaluations from their soccer coaches. I care a little about the soccer, but a great deal about the attitude & sportsmanship. Sam has struggled with both in the past few seasons, but got a fabulous evaluation this time. It's an area he as actively worked to improve this season, so I was thrilled with the results. He asked to go to dinner to celebrate, & we went out to a Greek restaurant last night. (Nick also had a great evaluation, but his is consistently good). In semi frugal news, I brought my own wine (no corkage fee at this restaurant), which kept the cost down tremendously. 
      That's it for me! Was it a frugal week for you? Add in any frugal wins or fails.

      Thursday, May 25, 2017

      It's almost a long weekend

      And I, for one, am very ready for the extra day off! :-) We have a few plans over the weekend, but for the most part, we will be getting things done around the house. We've reached that point where it's easy to not progress on house projects, because you lose momentum. But, there's still *quite* a bit to do!

      Here's what remains, in terms of projects:

      • Install new doors
      • Get a bid for air conditioning
      • Put in ceiling fans in two of the rooms (we hope to use the air conditioning very infrequently)
      • Put up all trim pieces
      • Finish painting
      • Seal "shower planter"
      • Towel rack in the master bathroom
      • Find a pool cover/cut to size
      • Tear down all outdoor structures/rebuild (there is a rat infestation. The pest service is out of option, as the structures have plenty of access space for the rats. They recommend tearing down & starting again with sealed sheds).
      • Install shelving in the boys closets

      Those are most of the bigger projects. There are also plenty of smaller sized ones:
      • Hang remaining pictures
      • Clean all screens (they have flooring dust on them)
      • Clean all slider door tracks (ditto the flooring)
      • Deep clean the outdoor patio space, to prevent pine needles from blowing into the pool
      • Talk to neighbor & trim pine tree back over the fence line
      • Finish planting all fruit trees
      • Clean pantry
      • Clean garage shelves
      • Organize linen closet
      • Organize my closet (it's livable, but I prefer a lot more organization to make it easy to find things).

      I think that's the top of the list, but I'm sure more things will stack up once those get checked off. If you remember, how long did it take for you to get "settled" once you moved? I feel like it's taking forever, but then again, I'm impatient. ;-) 

      Sunday, May 21, 2017

      As soccer draws to a close + a meal plan

      Spring soccer is almost over, and then we're off the hook until August! I'm looking forward to the break. :-) Today is Sam's last game, and Nick has a game today (if he's feeling up to it), and then a game the first weekend of June. The end is near.

      Yesterday was a really relaxing day, so today I need to get more done around the house. Here's what's on my list:

      1. Yoga
      2. A walk or light cardio of some sort
      3. Laundry
      4. Dishes
      5. Menu plan
      6. The produce stand
      7. Schedule for the week (work calendar, workout calendar, schedule for the nanny, etc)
      8. Clean our hall closet
      9. Determine which pictures we want to hang, vs store
      10. Have the boys call my parents
      11. Clean the fridge
      12. Do some sweeping by the pool. Our neighbors have a fir tree, and the needles get into the pool like crazy. 
      13. Take Sam to his soccer game/end of season party
      14. Relax & enjoy at least 30 minutes by the pool.
      Here's what I'm thinking of for a menu plan this week:

      • Sunday - Oven baked chicken risotto
      • Monday - chicken tacos
      • Tuesday - leftover risotto
      • Wednesday - if any chicken remains, chicken fettuccine
      • Thursday - kebabs (freezer) + gyozas (we have a huge bag, & I need to get rid of them)
      • Friday - Either takeout pizza or leftovers from whatever remains
      • Saturday - grilled burgers, or salmon if it looks good
      • Sunday - likely having M's cousin over for dinner, so probably a Persian feast (rice, kebabs, roasted vegetables, etc).

      What about you? Any big plans for the long weekend (if you are in the US)? Also, as the weather gets warmer, our bananas are ripening faster than we can eat them. I have 10 or so in the freezer. I made banana chocolate chip muffins yesterday (loosely based on this recipe), but would love other recommendations, if you have them. 

      Saturday, May 20, 2017

      Sleepy Saturday

      We enjoyed the pool yesterday evening, & then spontaneously decided to go to dinner. The food had just arrived when Nick informed us that he was very sick. Ahhh, life with kiddos! :) We packed up dinner, headed home, & Nick threw up on our driveway. He was sick all through the night, and this morning. He skipped soccer, and is starting to feel better, after crackers & Gatorade.

      I was up quite a bit in the night with him, and then took Sam to soccer this morning so M could get in some yard work. We have one mature fruit tree (a grapefruit tree), but the neighbor has a tree that has basically smothered it - the neighbor's tree is about 5 feet beyond the property line, has grown on top of our tree - blocking the sun, and is also close to our roof. M spoke to our neighbor (she is quite elderly) & asked her if he could cut it. So, he was taking care of that this morning.

      This afternoon, I made everyone lunch & then we all got in the pool. It's 90 degree, so relaxing by the pool in the sunshine (technically, I use a big umbrella, so it's the shade) was just what the doctor ordered after a sleepless night. I'll also wrap up some laundry, hit Costco, get my supplies for the end of the year soccer party tomorrow, and I have a batch of muffins in for our other neighbors. It's a lovely woman who is taking care of her husband with advanced dementia. I know she doesn't get out much, so the kids & I try to go over when we can (with baked goods or meals) just to say hello.

      This evening, I'm meeting a friend (M's cousin's wife) for dinner. I hope I can stay up late enough to handle it. :-)

      It's HOT here today, and I can already tell that we are going to need air conditioning! Our rental house stayed cool in the heat, but this house is not as insulated. We'll have to price that out & add it to our budget. Maybe we'll add in solar?

      What about you? What are you up to today? 

      Friday, May 19, 2017

      Frugal Friday

      Happy Friday! I'm very happy that the weekend is almost here. :-)

      It's been a pretty typical week at our house, but here's our list of frugal wins.

      • M replaced the brakes on my car
      • And, changed the oil on my other car
      • I declined a fundraising party I was invited to, and sent a donation instead. I don't need to buy anything new, and would rather my money go straight to the source.
      • I bought a PT ball (I'm seeing a physical therapist about my limited shoulder mobility on one side), and used my health care savings account.
      • I've been wanting to try a new local restaurant, and to expand the horizons of my youngest eater. A cute local eatery had a Groupon, so I bought that before Mother's Day. I'll use the Groupon to take the kids out on a weekday, and see how they do with Italian food. I know my eldest will love it. I'm trying to get the 10 year old to try new things. 
      • For Mother's Day, we stayed in & M made dinner. The kids bought me flowers (an inexpensive bouquet), & we spent the afternoon playing by the pool. No expensive dinners out. It was absolutely perfect. 
      • I picked up a free book that someone left at the office donation pile. Once I'm done with it, I'll pass it along to our library book sale.
      • I had a dentist appointment, and have no cavities. This is great health news, but also good fiscal news, as it means no out of pocket spending for any dental treatment. 
      • We line dryed the majority of our clothes and made all of our meals at home.

      What about you? Any big frugal wins? 

      Thursday, May 18, 2017

      A house for sale

      As regular readers may remember, we listed our Seattle rental house (previously our residence) last week. We actually already received an offer (2 days in), but the buyer rescinded, as they had another offer out that was accepted. So, that was a little crazy.

      I wasn't actually expecting to be stressed out by this house sale (yes, I'm obviously a person who isn't very self aware), but I'm finding the process to be very stressful. My assumption was that, while we are not looking to carry the mortgage for any length of time, we are also not desperate to sell. Things are good, and this money will help free us up & provide more financial flexibility. Now that I have that end goal in mind, I am, of course, all about getting the offer & rejiggering our financial life goals around whatever magic number we settle on. This is my first time selling a house, so I'm sure all of you experienced sellers are laughing at my foolishness. :-) Ahhhh, life lessons.

      In other news, the end of the school year is drawing near! There are lots of 5th grade activities for Sam (who will be starting middle school in August). I'm absolutely not prepared for that milestone! So, we're swamped with end of the year school stuff, combined with regular life.

      And, I'm busy planning & coordinating lots of fun summer travel, and trying to overlay that with some potential work trips. Of course, there's still too much work, and I'm desperately in search of a lead role for my team, so I can stop managing so many people in APAC. Fingers crossed, because the evening meetings & traveling gets old really fast.

      It's almost Friday, and I am incredibly ready for the weekend! I didn't get enough rest last weekend (actually, scratch that, I did, but not enough to recover from the previous few weeks), so I'm still dragging.

      If you have sold a home before, please share any tips or experience, or your tales of selling your home. 

      Sunday, May 14, 2017

      Happy Mother's Day

      A very happy Mother's Day, to all of you wonderful mothers out there. It can be an exhausting & all encompassing journey, but worth it!

      I'll be taking the boys to soccer this morning, & then hopefully spending the rest of the day mostly relaxing & getting things done. M is making Persian kebabs & rice tonight for dinner. Yum!

      Here's our menu plan for the week:

      Sunday - kebabs & rice
      Monday -  leftover pizza (from Saturday's sleepover)
      Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
      Wednesday - spaghetti & meatballs
      Thursday - tacos
      Friday - I'm going to a fundraiser for 5th grade moms, so I'll probably make pasta & chicken for the kids before I go.

      It's going to be a very simple menu plan this week, as I didn't make a large meal yesterday, like I normally do. I'd also like to go through the garage freezer & update my inventory with what we have on hand.

      What about you? What are you up to this Mother's Day? What's on the menu this week? 

      Saturday, May 13, 2017

      The 10K Saturday

      And, not $10K, but a 10K run. So much more fun. ;-) I got up this morning & did a really hilly 10K. The hills were nasty. The last two miles were straight uphill. Who designs a 10K with the final miles all uphill? I'll tell you who - a sadist. I'm beat!

      M took the kids to soccer, and Costco, & now I'm resting up at home. I have a party this evening (I won it in the school auction). It's a pedicure party, where drinks & food will be served. Getting a pedicure will be a nice reward after the run, & I'm looking forward to meeting a few of the other moms from school. I don't get to spend a lot of time at school due to my work schedule, so it will be nice to have some familiar faces.

      Nick has a soccer game in the late afternoon, and then Sam is having a sleepover this evening. It's just your basic weekend here. :-)

      Our realtor is holding an open house for our Seattle property, so fingers crossed on that front.

      We have two soccer games at the same field, close to the same time tomorrow. That's about the best Mother's Day gift of all. I do love watching the boys play, so I will probably manage that, so M can fix the brakes on my car. The oil light is on in the other car, so that's yet another project that will need to be tackled.

      It was an extremely intense work week, and I am all out of energy today. Normally, weekends are used for getting things done, but I feel the need to just rest up & recover this weekend. The 10K was probably a bit ambitious. ;-) I did manage to accomplish a few things over the past few days.

      • I've worked out 5x this week so far, & will work out again tomorrow. Probably yoga, so I can recover from my run.
      • I called Southwest & changed our flights for our adult trip in July I'm taking M to Las Vegas as an early 50th birthday celebration. We will also go to Hawaii for a longer trip in October
      • I provided feedback about a summer camps refund policy (aka no refunds, even if they are able to fill your spot, or end up cancelling the camp). This is not the norm around here AT ALL, and is not clearly described when registering. I received my money back, due to my email. This saved $650.
      • Sold a table that was in one of the sheds when we moved into the house. It was a very inexpensive Ikea table, but still, $5 & we got rid of something we didn't need.
      • Faxed over a health form for Sam's summer camp, & nagged the doctor about completing it. It's now ready for pick up & I can drop it off on Wednesday.
      • Interviewed & hired someone to help with after school care for the last few weeks of school. Our nanny is now studying for finals. A neighbor is home from Columbia for the summer, so will be available to help out. I'm paying more than I'd typically want to ($22/hour), but she had very good energy, got along well with the boys, and it's only for a few weeks. 
      And with that, I'm off to go read my book. I ran out of library books, and serendipitously, one of my coworkers left a freebie at the office. Do you ever just use the weekends to crash & recover from crazy weeks?

      Friday, May 12, 2017

      Frugal Friday

      All of my global team was in town this week, so we had full days of meetings, plus evening activities every day. I'm exhausted, to say the least, and looking forward to the weekend!

      Here are our frugal wins for the week!

      • Even though it was a crazy weekend, we did not eat out. It was super tempting on Saturday night, after a full day of kids activities, but I stuck to the plan. I brought plenty of snacks & water to the games, and we ate between activities at the house.
      • Ate a few lingering single serving freezer leftovers (from meals my parents prepped for us a month or so ago)
      • Created meals out of leftovers for the kids, including using leftover taco meat to make "Taco quesadillas" (cheese quesadillas, but with warmed spicy taco meat inside). It's a kid favorite that we make rarely, as we typically don't have leftover taco meat. This week, because Sam was at overnight camp, we had extra.
      • Stuck to my shopping plan at Costco & the produce stand. Made a last minute swap of romaine hearts for organic mixed greens, as the organic mixed greens ended up to be on super sale. 
      • Used leftover fruit in smoothies. I typically use freshly squeezed oranges, but now that we don't have an orange tree in our yard, I had to get creative. M bought lunch for our painters one day (pizza & lemonade - their request), so we have a large tub of leftover organic lemonade. Not the healthiest smoothie base due to the sugar, but I used it sparingly to be able to blend the smoothie in our Vitamix
      • School is out on Monday. I'd registered the kids for a camp, as I have to work. The camp costs $95 for two kids, for the day. Unfortunately, the camp didn't have enough kids, so they cancelled. A few friends are pooling resources, and hiring a few older siblings (college students) to watch the boys at a park. Price = $70 for two kids, and includes lunch. I think the boys will love it.
      • Our neighborhood art school gives one free trial lesson, so we signed Nick up for Sunday. We actually bought him lessons through our school auction (his birthday gift), so this will allow him to try a class & know which type of session he might like best for his paid lessons.
      What about you? Any big frugal moments in your week?

      Monday, May 8, 2017

      Weekly spending roundup (5/1-5/7/17)

      I haven't done one of these in a long time (too many purchases with the house!), so it's probably time to get back on the wagon.

      • Monday - no spend day
      • Tuesday - no spend day
      • Wednesday - $35.12 - reusable ziplocks. We haven't tried them yet, but I'm interested in the environmental savings, as well as any cost savings. These will primarily be for packed lunches (where we need light/small containers), so I am a little concerned about one of the kids tossing one accidentally. Especially given the price! I'll report back after we've tried these out.
      • Thursday
        • $153 - a week's worth of after school care from our nanny
        • $56.49 - library fines for the two books lost in the move. Sigh.
      • Friday - $30.40 - various Ubers for M. He will be getting reimbursed $20 for one, after he fills out the correct forms. 
      • Saturday - $35.12 - gas
      • Sunday
        • $50 - I've been on a quest for new shorts. I have zero pair, and want something casual for hot weather. I've tried three pair at Costco so far, but none have worked. They will be going back. I did get an $8 shirt for Nick for an event, so that will remain
        • $85 - two bottles of nice whiskey for M's Father's Day gift, plus his big milestone birthday coming up!
        • $72.68 - weekly groceries at Costco, including a rotisserie chicken
        • $10.70 - the produce stand. This included: a large tub of organic mixed greens, two bunches of radishes, 3 lbs of mini cucumber, a few cluster of tomatoes, 8 apricots,  & a package of whole wheat lavosh bread
        • $688.17 - flights. My mom called yesterday to see if I would be okay with her flying here to pick up the boys, and then taking them home with her. She wants the boys to attend a few big family things that are going on, and M & I can't take the time off of work. She will return the boys the following week, when she & my dad were already planning on visiting. I'd paid $521 for summer camp that week, so this should work out well, as I'll be able to cancel a week of camp. 

      Total spent this week = $1151.16

      I haven't gotten a chance to catch up with M yet this morning, but it sounds like he won some money in the tournament he attended over the weekend, which should more than cover his travel expenses. Woohoo! :-) 

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

      Sunday, May 7, 2017

      The weekend goes by too quickly

      We were up at 5:30 for a soccer game, but now have the rest of the afternoon (mostly) free. I plan to work out, and I'll eventually get Nick to a free art class he's trying. Then we will pick M up at the airport, and I plan to make it a very early evening. I had a bunch of other chores I'd marked as something I'd like to accomplish today, but I, quite frankly, do not see that happening. ;-)

      I have my international team in town this week, so I have one team dinner, and a few evening social activities. I will likely only attend one, as it's too much with the rest of our schedule.

      In exciting news, our rental house is going on the market next week! I'm so excited to get that sorted out. Woohoo for progress!

      And, because menu planning keeps me sane, here's what we're eating this week.

      Friday - Spaghetti & meatballs (the boys had leftovers from the fridge, I had a single serving freezer lasagna meal - leftover from my parents visit).
      Saturday - Taco quesadillas (the boys had this, using up leftover taco meat. I had a single serving freezer meal of chicken risotto).
      Sunday - Fettuccine alfredo using a Costco rotisserie chicken. I'm going for something like this recipe.
      Monday - kebabs from the freezer + rice?
      Tuesday - I'll be at a team dinner. Leftover fettuccine for the other diners
      Wednesday - baked fish & pasta
      Thursday - gyozos & baked chicken
      Friday - homemade risotto

      Nick subbed on Sam's team this morning (an early morning game, but at least it was a gorgeous morning) & watching the boys play together was definitely my weekend highlight. Nick scored a goal off of an assist from his brother. Sam swung him around & lifted him up in congratulations. It was . . . adorable & made the weekend worth it. I love seeing them work hard together & also have the right attitude to support each other. Super cute. Wish I would have had my camera ready.

      What about you? What was the best part of the weekend? And, what's one thing you're looking forward to this week? 

      Saturday, May 6, 2017

      Oh Saturday, what should we do?

      It's one of those Saturdays where having an extra pair of hands would be amazing, but M is out of town. Instead, I'll rely on my "village" of friends. I'll give Sam's bud a ride to & from a game this morning (&, it's a 35 minute drive. Our league is usually super close teams, so not excited about that). Then, I'll feed everyone lunch, head back, drop Nick off for a ride to his game. Then drop Sam off for a Boy Scouts requirements event, head to pick up Nick (again, 30 minutes away), and pick Sam up on my way home. I'm tired just thinking about it.

      Sam is pretty sleepy, after being away at overnight science camp for a three days with his school. He had an amazing time, & did great with listening & being a leader. There were some worries there, so it's such a good feeling to hear about him maturing.

      In the brief window of time between activities, here's what's on the agenda for today:

      1. Some sort of exercise. My legs are pretty sore from my workout yesterday, which is always a good sign. 
      2. Go through the boys clothes, clean out the size 8 shorts that are getting to be a little "short" on my 11 year old. Still fit in the waist, but length is becoming a problem. Make a list of anything we need.
      3. Pick up bonus kid, take everyone to soccer
      4. Laundry
      5. Dishes
      6. Clean the fridge
      7. Find a date for a "birthday" sleepover for Nick. Seriously, his birthday was in March.
      8. Make a list of things to sell via eBay or my local Facebook swap
      9. Pool maintenance
      10. Water the plants
      11. Take Nick to his ride for his soccer game
      12. Take Sam to his ride to Boy Scouts
      13. Pick up Nick from soccer
      14. Pick up Sam from Boy Scouts
      15. Collapse on a patio chair & drink wine
      And, that's it! What about you? What kind of Saturday are you hoping to have? Is it an errand filled day, or hopefully more relaxing?

      Friday, May 5, 2017

      Frugal Friday

      It's been a very crazy week. We're doing a team wide re-organization, which involves an absolutely enormous amount of coordination & communication. Sam has been at science camp this week, so things have been a bit quieter than normal here & I'm excited to have him home this afternoon!

      I've been too busy to spend any money this week, but here are a few frugal things I've accomplished:

      • Called Comcast over a billing error, and gotten $70 reversed. There is another $70 erroneous charge, but I need to call again about the second charge. Check your bills! 
      • I haven't done any "shopping for fun" in a long time, but I did look at a few cute dresses online, & then just left them in my cart. It was enough to browse around & get a few ideas of how to better use the things in my closet.
      • Price matched all of our existing 2017 travel, & requested a $20 flight credit for our adult Hawaii trip, as fares have dropped.
      • Made all of our meals at home this week, even though we had a broken oven for a few days.
      • Exchanged a pair of running shoes that didn't fit.
      • M took an Uber to the airport this morning, and used a free credit to offset the cost

      Here are the non frugal things that happened this week:
      • Continue to fund repairs & yard work at our rental house (it's going on the market next week!) in order to get it move in ready
      • Had to replace soccer balls & practice socks for both kids. When you play as much soccer as my peeps do, you have to replace the gear pretty regularly
      • Paid off all of our library fines. Sigh. How books got lost in the move (along with our Amazon remote that we have never found), I'll never know. 
      • Order reusable replacements for ziplock bags, in an attempt to both be more environmentally friendly, and save cost over the long haul. I am testing out a few from Amazon, and will come back with a report either way on longevity of the bags, how easy they are to clean, etc.
      I am so VERY happy that it's Friday! Looking forward to getting a bunch of stuff done this weekend, as well as relaxing & enjoying the cooler weather. What about you? Any frugal wins to celebrate?

      Tuesday, May 2, 2017

      May goals

      I love the freshness of a new month, and the feeling that anything is possible. Here's what's on the list of projects to tackle for May!

      1) Financial - 
      • Finish all projects for our rental house & get it listed!
      • Update our project & budget list for our house
      • Start new family budget for post rental house sale
      • Find one alternative cost cutting option
      • Sell another $100 of items on either eBay or my local Facebook swap site. 
      • Finalize our decluttering & organizing in the new house
      2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!

      • Do a minimum of one fun activity/month with the kids. This can be family puzzle night, cooking dinner together, board games, going out somewhere, etc. 
      • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc.
      • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) 
      • Plan M's birthday & Father's Day
      • Figure out what to do for both parents (Mother's Day & Father's Day)

        3) Fitness/health - Lose 4 pounds in May
        • Run 25 miles in May
        • Run a 10K
        • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day
        • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio
        • Complete 6 strength workouts.
        • Complete 6 stretching workouts. 

        4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
        • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress 
        • Work from home 2x this month.
        • Brainstorm how I would spend my time if I wasn't working. Really think creatively about what this would mean, what the challenges would be, etc.

          5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
          • Try a new recipe
          • Do something social at least once per month.
          • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month.

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

          Monday, May 1, 2017

          April goals - how did I do?

          I've finally made some positive fitness changes (mostly green!) in April. I also managed to get a bunch of other stuff done for the month, so I'm feeling good about things overall.

          1) Financial - 
          • Start forecasting & modeling our plans for selling our rental house - yes! We have a plan, and a forecast on what we expect to clear. 
          • Pay our taxes. Yay. ;-) - Yes. Hurrah for the IRS. 
          • Adjust our budget as needed, now that we've had a month in the house. - We have a rough budget, but are still trying to understand utilities, etc. Also, we have a few upcoming strange months covering the rental expenses, etc. I'll be tackling this again more officially once our house sells. 
          • Build a list & budget for all remaining house projects - I have a draft, but need to update it. 
          • Find one alternative cost cutting option - I didn't really make much progress on this. I need to put my thinking cap on! I was considering ordering the re-usable plastic bags (ziplock replacements). Does anyone have any that they recommend? 
          • Sell another $100 of items on either eBay or my local Facebook swap site. - I didn't sell anything. We have a flat screen TV that we need to sell, but I haven't gotten myself organized enough yet to take pictures & list it yet. 
          • Finalize our decluttering & organizing in the new house - it's a work in progress, but I would definitely not describe it as "finalized". 
          2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!

          • Do a minimum of one fun activity/month with the kids. This can be family puzzle night, cooking dinner together, board games, going out somewhere, etc. - We took the boys BMX racing a few Saturdays ago, and they had a blast. 
          • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc.- We have been spending a lot of time together working on the house. Not sure that's as fun as everyone would want, but lots of time mowing the lawn, raking leaves, etc. We are all working together!
          • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) - M & I had a great dinner date together to celebrate his promotion. 
          • Continue researching plans for an adult trip in October - Yes! It's booked & we are going to Hawaii to celebrate our anniversary. 

            3) Fitness/health - Lose 3 pounds in April - down 1/2 a pound. Not the progress I was looking for, but moving in the right direction. Finally!
            • Run 20 miles in April - yes, I ran 24 miles in April
            • Run a 10K - yes! I ran a 10K last Friday. I got the route incorrect, so it ended up being closer to 8 miles!
            • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day - I finished with 3.6/day, so still work to do here. 
            • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio - Yes! Best results of the year. I finished with 1,115 minutes of cardio. 
            • Complete 6 strength workouts. - Yes, I had 8 strength workouts!
            • Complete 6 stretching workouts. - I had stretching workouts. A clear area of focus, as I'd like to consistently do yoga a minimum of 1x/every week, and 2x/week as often as possible. 

            4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
            • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress  - it's been a rough few weeks, as we discuss fully reorganizing our teams & responsibilities. I've been trying to work out to offset the stress, which helps. 
            • Work from home 2x this month. - I managed 1x/this month. I had visitors at my house earlier in the month, so it wasn't feasible to work from home. 

              5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
              • Try a new recipe - Nope. It wasn't one of those months. Lots of guests, some traveling, & general chaos. 
              • Do something social at least once per month. - Yes, I had a girls trip!
              • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month. - Yes, in that I organized & sponsored a fundraiser for our school, which raised $850. The party will be held in May, so that will require more volunteering. I also volunteered at the school for a fitness event, so I managed two different activities.

              What about you? How did you do with your April goals? I'm off to go set some fancy May goals! :-)