F*ck No Spending; Let’s Just Budget Better

We failed, miserably over here. Anyone else want to join in on the confession?

We are about 22 day in to our “30 days of no spending,” and I’m here to tell you that it’s bullshit. I have 4 little kids and am due in about 2 months with the 5th. I managed over 2 weeks without buying anything unneeded, but then I caved. And I don’t even know if I’m sorry!

I wish I was stronger… maybe…. I don’t know.

I bought Beauty and the Beast on iTunes.

I ordered a new pair of Tom’s for my 3-year-old.

I ordered tiny baby socks.

I bought wine. (That MIGHT be a necessity.)

John ate lunch out a few times at work instead of bringing food.

I stopped at Target THREE times…  (I may not have bought crazy things, but I did purchase a few non-needed items.)

We are tie-dying shirts and onesies today FOR FUN.

The point is this: I like to randomly buy fun things and live in the moment.  So does my husband.

I am a total hypocrite. I know. I know. I swore we would be so good. What kind of example am I? A REAL, LIVE, NON-LYING ONE.

SO…. here’s the deal. FUCK the whole no-spending thing. I can’t live that way. Instead, we are implementing an actual budget that includes:

  1. Cash Withdrawals (Thank you Dave Ramsey)
  2. Automatic Savings Account Transfers (WEEKLY)
  3. Meal Plans and Grocery Lists
  4. Allowances for Adults and Kid Spending (nothing crazy, but enough for a movie or other fun entertainment)
  5. Open Discussions About Our Money and Budget

I’m pretty sure that this is a MUCH better plan than the last one.

PS — You can totally join us in tie-dying some summer-awesome shirts!  This kit is PERFECT because you can dye more than 3 shirts. HA.

Our Limited-Technology Summer Rules

It has been a week and a half without iPads, daily television, Netflix, and phone play for our kids. It’s been closer to a month of limited access of these items.

While I would love to be completely tech-free, all-day, everyday, that’s not fair to anyone – including me. Not to mention that I am a writer… I have my computer open whenever creativity strikes. AND I love to watch my Netflix shows in the evening. It’s how I shut my mom-brain off and zone out. We also enjoy family movies! What a hypocrite I would be if all technology was banished for the kids, but not the adults?

This is not the early 80’s here. I want my children to live their childhoods’ fully… including summers of boredom, but I’m also realistic. Mommy likes to unwind with a glass of wine and let the kids veg out…

We are absolutely loving our #TechFreeSummer so far, but after my last post, I’ve had a few questions about what exactly our tech rules are. I figured, the best way to answer would be to the masses.

Limited-Technology Rules For Our Home

  1. NO TECHOLOGY unless Mommy or Daddy says it’s ok.

That’s basically our main rule. ha.

Here are a few others that John and I are in charge of remembering, and the kids seem to forget:

  1. All iPads are kept together and away from kids, only to be retrieved by a parent.
  2. Television is permitted before iPads.
  3. iPads will be handed over if a parent asks for one.
  4. If fighting or bad attitudes arrive due to screen time, the devices will be removed and new rules discussed.

Our kids don’t have to check a list of crap before they earn their screen time. They have things we expect of them every day that are just part of life. I hate when I hear that kids earn screen time… I feel like it is part of the reason kids melt down when their time is over.

Here’s the deal. Today was the FIRST day we agreed to iPad usage in 10 days. It was early, a Saturday morning, and I just wanted to sleep a bit longer. Selfish, I know. I should have allowed the TV and not iPads; I’ve learned my lesson.   Our morning was Hell.

We needed to get ready for baseball games, and yet no child would cooperate, help, or listen at all. There was fighting between kids, aggravated adults, tears, and a late arrival to game #1. Both John and I just shook our heads and decided it was time to take our limited-technology a step further.

iPads somehow turn our kids into crazed-mean-unhelping creatures; normally it’s Netflix or a stupid app they are obsessed with – or just the screen itself. I think the time of day and exhaustion level of the child plays a huge role too. But I have realized that the hour of ‘sanity’ for me is not worth the 2-3 hours of cranky attitudes that comes with it. So we are cutting off iPads even more.

Educational apps can be played when a parent agrees, but it will be limited to 45 minutes, unless a parent extends time and happiness is still existing. No one uses an iPad until late afternoon or evening, and that will be a rarity (if at all) on weekdays.  (This is basically what the rules have been, but every once in a while we slack and shit hits the fan.)

If any of you have cut (or extremely limited) technology in your house, what advice do you have to share?  I’m up for learning from others on this!

One thing is for sure, our entire house is a more peaceful environment with technology being limited!

PS — Because of how our morning started, the children have been scrubbing the cars are afternoon, TOGETHER….   and they are HAPPY.

 

The Team Our Family Created

I have a 15 month old sleeping across my lap tonight. He is the sweetest little thing, and yet will become a true toddler in the blink of an eye when baby #5 arrives in 2 months. But tonight’s writing is not really about this…

We just got home from Scarlett’s (7) first swim meet of the season – and her first here in Omaha. She cut through the water in pure beauty, and in true mom-fashion, I screamed for the entire 32 seconds she crossed the pool.  I watched as her Daddy twirled her around on the side of the pool and high-fived her as she ran off with friends.  She wasn’t afraid at all – if anything, she looked like she was at home in the water.

I drove home with all of the boys, and I let John take Scarlett for special “Dad Time.” As we drove, Emmett (5) told me about how fast he’s going to be in the water. Even Lyle (3) joined in about how much fun it was to cheer for Scarlett. We all sang and laughed and talked…

And then, after bedtime, I sat down and felt emotional. Maybe it’s the third trimester emotions starting up…. but as I look through tonight’s pictures, I realized that we are doing so much more than celebrating childhoods here. There is more happening than family-fun.

We are always focused on ‘child-led’ this and ‘child-led’ that. It rules our life, and I LOVE it. Our kids are growing and learning as they were intended to. They are truly experiencing the world and all the happiness it embodies…. but tonight, I am realizing something so much bigger is happening….

My kids are growing up. They are growing up and growing together. It’s happening so quickly, that I could miss it if I sleep in too late. My days (and John’s) are limited now. We are raising these babies, but it’s passing fast. They are becoming each other’s support systems. Soon they will be one another’s go-to for celebrations and heartaches.

Yes, it is years down the road, but at the same time, it is tomorrow in the eyes of a mother. These babies are cheering for one another as loud (or louder) than their dad and I are…

I can see them in college… and as young adults… and then as true adults. My heart is bursting and emotions are overflowing.

These babies – these siblings are more than anything I had ever dreamt of with parenthood. We have created a TEAM. I want to cherish every single moment in which I am included in this team. For the moment, I am the coach… but it will not last.

My mindset is changing from ‘child-led’ everything, to ‘soak in the rewards from leading that child-led life.’

Rediscovering Summer: Bringing Back Childhood

If you have just joined in over here, you may not know that we are a over a week into our month of no (excess) spending. When our family began the challenge, it was due to needing to rebuild our savings accounts, but after a week, I’m learning that it’s really not that hard to think through things before throwing them into a cart. This may last longer than a month!

Cutting the spending also has an impact on our kids – their expectations of ‘owning things’ needed to be scaled back… drastically.

While we have tightened our budget-belts, I decided to go ahead and add a few more ‘fun challenges’ this summer. All of this is in hopes of bringing back a true childhood for our kids and instilling stronger values while enjoying the best season of the year.

Summer is about being barefoot in the grass, exploring the creeks, staying up until the stars come out, sleeping in and making over-sized bowls of cereal, becoming brown under the sun while diving into the pool, and road tripping with your family. It’s about exploring, adventuring, bonding with friends, and testing the boundaries of new found independence.

But yet, the youth of today are lost in social media and screens. Even the youngest of the generation aren’t out exploring the world; the toddlers know how to swipe a screen better than their parents. Who am I kidding? My own generation is lost as well! And we are no saints here. We own three iPads and have 2 TV’s in our home. While the iPads are used for homeschooling, they have turned into a crutch – for the kids and myself.

I’m done with crutches. This slower, mid-west lifestyle has opened my eyes to a wonderful opportunity… The opportunity to truly be present. So this is what we’ve done, we collected the iPads for good, unless a parent grants permission for an educational app to be used (exception will be the long road trip next month!). They will be used for homeschooling still – and facetiming family! – but that’s it, for now. The TV was never really an issue here, but the rule this summer is no TV until Mama says it’s ok.

I’m not doing any of this to punish myself or the kids. I enjoy evening TV, and I know the kids do too! It’s an easy way to relax and tune out…  but for 95% of the day, music is all we need!

Good-bye extreme technology.

We are a week into these changes and have spent more hours talking together than ever before. Meals are shared, clouds are made into alligators, bikes have been rode longer (and farther), and creations have been made from moments of boredom. We have found new playgrounds, filled inflatable pools, and lived slower – together.

I write all of this in hopes that you will join our #WildTribeAdventures this summer and cut off the majority of your technology…. in hopes to bring back childhood – and bring back summer!

My  kids will be at the library, pool, and children’s museum… They will spend hours being bored at home; they will play in the rain, ride bikes through our neighborhood, and create secrets together. I will worry as they wander around, but keep them within shouting distance. I will stop arguments from turning ugly, but let them solve their own problems. I will read my own books and encourage them to do the same. There will be hard days and easy ones, but the summer will be our best one yet.

Join us, using #WildChildSummer

Are Your Kids Drinking Enough Water?

I realized today, while at the pool- in 95 degree heat, that my kids hadn’t really drank ANYTHING yet. Looking back on the day, there was a delicious breakfast, but did anyone drink their water alongside of it? Maybe a sip…

My 7-year-old began complaining about a headache within 30 minutes of swimming, and it dawned on me: the kid needs WATER.

She has been complaining nightly about stomach aches, so bad that she cries and curls into a ball. The doctor can’t see any real reason for it, suggesting we completely cut gluten and dairy from her diet. (Those of you that know us, know we eat REALLY well – but we’ll be cutting out our limited foods in these categories.)  The chiropractor swears the issue lies in the air out here. She says that farmland = pesticide land. And while that terrifies the shit out of me, I cannot control our air quality.

What do I think? I have no real idea, but after research, I have found that this area has horrible ratings on its water, soil, and air qualities. Our bodies are going to take quite a while to adapt to this significant change, and it is further evidence in my basket to not make this home for too long.

I can’t change the air. I can’t change the soil. But I can control the water. I don’t think any of my kids are drinking enough water, and that’s going to change tomorrow. But most importantly, I am going to control the quality of water my kids are exposed to.

We are faithful Berkey-Owners and absolutely love the water filter. The only time we ever drink or cook with water from another source is if we are out of town, or the berkey wasn’t refilled! And in those moments, we used filtered, bottled water.  If you are drinking water from your refrigerator filter – or worse, the sink, please please learn about the benefits of adding a Berkey to your home!

But water is not only consumed by drinking. Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs what is put on it. This means that showers and baths can have an overall effect on our health. In our case, the harsh, hard, toxic-filled crap water out here is probably not helping with any of the issues we are dealing with. After a little googling,  we will be adding a filtration ball to our bath tubs, and will continue to use Epsom salt, essential oils for baths regularly. Keep in mind that Epsom salt can dehydrate the body, so increasing water intake is a must!

I have no idea if any of this will cure the stomach aches Scarlett has been having, but altering the diet, increasing the high-quality water intake, continuing with high-dose probiotics, and ensuring plenty of exercise combined with lots of sleep are our only options right now! Cross your fingers for us.

What about you and your kids? Do you drink enough water? It’s easy to forget to monitor such a mindless task. You drink when you are thirsty, but is that enough for your children’s health?

I’ll be using larger water bottles with my kids (with easy to use lids) They’ll be filled in the morning and hopefully consumed at least once a day.

Grab a water bottle and start tracking your children’s water intake! Let’s remind each other just how important it is for them to drink up.

 

30 Days Without Spending. Can I Do It?

June

begins the first month of summer.  It is a time of pure heated bliss, with pool days, dirty feet, and careless spending….

Back that up right quick.

Does anyone else fall into the trap of overspending on complete and useless crap throughout the summer?

We just emptied our accounts to buy an amazing house. June marks 3 months of homeownership here! Whoop! Why have we not started replenishing our bank accounts? I’ll tell you why…

House projects added up quick; we renovated the fireplace and ripped out the kitchen tile. What we thought would be easy weekend tasks turned into two months of work. I can’t complain about the extra time and money because it looks phenomenal.

But then there was my careless home shopping sprees! New bedding and décor for all of the kid rooms, glass jars to line the kitchen and turn us into a more eco-conscious home… and all of the other ridiculous, late-night amazon purchases that were not needed.

I am your typical mom-to-a-lot-of kids… I give in and order pizza, rent the movie, throw crap in the cart that is never needed. It’s a problem… ha.

Our flower beds look gorgeous and the house is at a stopping point until our next project this fall, so it’s time to start seriously saving some money. We have an awesome trip planned for the week of July 4th; we have a 5th baby coming in late August; we want to take a killer trip this winter, and we need to just rebuild the accounts.

We are going on a 30-day NO SPEND Spree.  That means that nothing other than bills, gas, and groceries are purchased this month. It sounds easy right?  But if you are anything like me, the ice-cream shop screams our names as we drive home from the pool… iTunes will probably put out a few great kid movies to add to the collection (and make for an easy weekend at some point)…  Holy Hell — Target is just f’ing Target – the money-sucking happiest place on earth.

I will need to avoid Target and Amazon like the plague to successfully complete this challenge.

If I (well, we – the husband needs to stop buying lunch out everyday, and step away from Home Depot) can complete this task, we should be able to pay off everything from the house renovations and start seeing cash flow back into those savings accounts!

Who else out there is in need of a little discipline. This means no snack bar treats at the pool, no date nights, no late-night clicking and spending!

I understand that this seems insane to so many of you reading, but I can’t be alone here.

I’ll let you know how we do – keep me updated on your self-discipline tactics and progress throughout the month too.

When it’s a seriously bad morning of childhood.

Scarlett and the No Good, Horrible, Terrible Morning.

It all started when Daddy tried to wake her up at 9:45am. It was a bright and beautiful Sunday outside, far too spectacular to be slept through. It was a kind and gentle wake up, but it was a wake up none-the-less. She chose to stay in bed a bit longer, and Daddy kissed her head and told the pancakes would be waiting.

 

45 minutes later, I walked upstairs to motivate her a bit, but instead, I found her on an ipad – which is not allowed per our family rules. (No ipads before face-to-face interaction!) I asked her to turn it off and come downstairs. She grumpily obliged.

 

She sat down at the table alone and had to choose from the “leftover” pancakes. “These are cold!” She began crying. After reheating, “These are dry now! Why did I get all the bad pancakes? I’m so hungry!” the tears began falling harder. I ask her to breathe and try to find a solution on her own, and I walk outside to start the bubble machine for the little boys.

 

It’s a matter of moments before I here wailing from the windows. Scarlett has spilled syrup on her perfectly picked out neon pink shirt and shorts… dripping it to the rug below. If she knew curse words, she would have been cursing like a sailor.

 

It took all the power to not laugh. She was having a HORRIBLE morning. It worsened when syrup was then sat in. I didn’t think she could handle anything else. Whoa did the emotional shit show hit the fan when she went upstairs to change and found her brothers in her room! THE SCREAMS! Ear-piercing shrieks. She somberly made it back to the kitchen to make a breakfast of her choosing. Her eyes were puffy and red. I hugged her and asked how I could help… Scarlett’s response,

 

“Mommy! It’s just the worst, bad-luck day! Everything is horrible. Why is everything wrong today!!!!?”

 

Oh my heart. My sweet, sweet firstborn love. The one who made me a mother.

 

“Today is just a day. Every day cannot be unicorns and rainbows. Every day cannot be amazing. If it was, you would never appreciate the happiness. These hard moments, baby girl, they flat out suck. There is nothing else to say about them but that – they suck. You are bigger than this moment though. It does not define you,” I say.

 

“Can’t we just start it all over?”

 

“Why yes, love – that’s part of childhood. You get to learn and try again, every single day.”

 

After another slew of tears and hard moments, including falling to bruise her elbow, and learning that the museum exhibit was not opened yet, things began to look up. We picked flowers for a bouquet, read a book in the hammock, and decided to head to the pool as a family.

 

Why am I sharing her horrible morning with you? Simple, she’s seven, and she’s smack in the middle of her childhood. There is still so much to conquer and learn. She is growing and dreaming big things over here, and I know she’s not the only child who has hard days.

 

The trouble is how we handle our children in these moments. Their day is just as important as ours. If not, more important – these moments build to create the foundation of how they handle their adulthood.

 

The best way I have found to work through these times is to simply be present. Sit together and allow the tears and emotions to be released. Talk when the child wants to listen, and listen when the child talks. Make this moment the priority. The rest will all fall into place.

 

Cheers to a better start to tomorrow and a happy ending to today!

Choosing Favorites?

There are only 2 adults here. Two grown, responsible parties. This means that our family can only be in two places at one time due to the whole ‘you-need-a-grown-up-to-drive’ thing.

 

We have 4 tiny humans and a 5th on the way.

 

The season has arrived in which we have royally screwed ourselves.

 

Let me back track a month or so; I was at the YMCA working out and realized that soccer season was coming to a close for my oldest two children. We had talked about the upcoming baseball possibilities and learned that our 7-year-old wasn’t interested – and thank god because she’s a swim team girl and wouldn’t be able to commit to another summer sport. But, we found out that our 3-year-old wanted nothing more than to play! “How freaking cute will he be?” my husband and I laughed! Out 5-year-old has been begging to play for a few seasons, so we knew he would be signed up.
I went ahead and signed up both boys (3 and 5 year olds) for a summer season at the ball field!

 

Last week, we were e-mailed the swim team schedule. Oh the fresh taste of early morning 5-day-a-week practices…. And even earlier weekend swim meets! I can’t lie, we love it. Two days later, I opened my baseball e-mail with information about our coach and the game schedules. How fun!? Saturdays at the ballpark! Wait… two games each Saturday, eh ok we can still do this… wait, son #1 is on field #1 at park ABC while son #2 is on field #3 at park XYZ – located nowhere near field ABC.

WTF just happened? We woke up and have three kids obligated to be in three completely different locations at the same time EVERY Saturday of the summer. FUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCK.

 

Welcome to mother f-ing parenthood of more than 2 kids.

 

The hubster and I sat down with a beer and a glass of wine (no I’m pregnant, I wouldn’t dare…) and discussed the problem at hand. We both want to be at every swim meet because it’s our firstborn’s sport. It’s her thing. And holy shit it is crazy intense to watch her swim. The 5-year-old has been promised a season of baseball for over a year. We have avoided it until now, but my GOD this kid is a natural born athlete. Struggling with speech and sensory issues, we never imagined he’d WANT to be on a team, and now he BEGS for it. He dominated the soccer field and loved a season of basketball; we couldn’t push baseball off any longer. Neither my husband and I are huge baseball fans, but we are excited for him to experience a new sport and team. And then there is our ornery little middle child. “He’s only 3,” we say. “He won’t hate us for long. He can play in the fall.”

 

It was as easy at that; we had just axed our thirdborn’s first team sport. We are horrible.

 

Had we just put our older children above the younger ones? Had we just picked favorites? The short answer… YES. We did pick favorites. We decided that, at this stage of life, it was better to follow-through with our oldest children. Are we right? Who the hell knows. But I do know that there was absolutely no way to be in three places at once – nor did I want to even try.

 

Some decisions are shitty to make, but workout for the entire family as a whole. Next year will be even harder. If anything, every year will become more difficult for us because of the age spacing, game times, and choice of sports. With this many kids, nothing will be exactly easy…. But somehow we will figure it all out – even if that means picking favorites. We may need to alternate seasons for kids, choose our favorite sports to watch – or only do the ones they excel in… I don’t know, but somehow it will all fall in to place. It has to…

If not, I’ll just be over here not drinking wine.

Turn That Frown Upside Down

A friend called me today. An actual friend – on the phone, and because there are SO MANY hours in the day out there in the Midwest, I was actually able to answer. Dear Lord I needed to talk to someone who knew me. I don’t even know why she called, but I feel horribly guilty because I basically poured out all of my feelings within 10 minutes and gave her about 2 minutes before we both had to go…. But I am so thankful for those 12 minutes.

I bitched and complained and wined about the last 3 months. I was pretty much a toddler who wasn’t getting her way. I can now relate to my children.

As a true friend does, she talked me back to reality, made me feel normal, and helped me come up with some major distractions until I acclimate myself to this new environment.  I feel okay now; although a bit ashamed of my excessive focus on the negatives lately.

I was reminded just how blessed I am – we are, this family of mine. We are happy, healthy, truly in love, expecting baby #5, financially stable, live in a great house, and have a solid life. This transition has been rough, but it has brought us closer together. I am done focusing on leaving and moving elsewhere, and will now focus on positives! We have at least two years here, so I need to pass the time with happy moments!

As you know, we are an adventure family. We have never had the opportunity to adventure throughout the Midwest. So here I sit, planning our first road trip from Nebraska – no worries, I’ll blog all about it!  It’ll be an easy 6 hour drive to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and our final trip before this baby arrives.

We are splitting the trip between two extremes – camping and a resort. It’ll be the best of both worlds at 31 weeks pregnant with 4 little ones in tow. We’ll disconnect for a week and explore all the area has to offer! I’ll keep you updated as I figure out the specifics, just in case any of you decide to take a trip out this way.

I’m looking for adventure suggestions for the Midwest! We will soon have  8, 6, 3.5, 1.5 year olds and a newborn on our hands, so we won’t be white water rafting quite yet.  We plan on doing this trip in July, another in December, and the 22+ (no stops counted) trip to Florida next February-ish.  I’m going to spend my time counting down to our adventures, enjoying quality time, and soaking up every single ounce of sunshine that we get this summer!

On another note…. call a friend. Someone is need of your conversation today. Trust me.