The School Uniform Reinvented

This post may contain affiliate links

 

A new take on the stuffy old school uniforms for #BTS!

  1. Nautica Boys’ Double Breasted Shawl Collar Cardigan in Coal Heather  2. Boys’ Polo Shirt – Cat & Jack™ in Red 3. Boys’ Woven Cord Belt in Navy  4. Herschel Supply Co. Settlement Backpack in Woodland Camo/Navy/Red 5. Boys’ Pull-On Pant Cat & Jack™ in Blue 6. Stride Rite Made 2 Play Gannon Boot in Brown

School Clothes Planning

I am a planner.  I plan everything.  Right down to the most minute detail…it’s actually kind of OCD ridiculous!  In my planning process, I also research and try to create themes, etc.  So about a year and a half before my eldest started Kindergarten, I started planning.  I asked myself questions like “Am I going to red-shirt him since his birthday is so close to the cutoff?” and “Are we going to settle for the school by our house or are we going to appeal for a spot in a ‘better’ school?” and “What is he going to wear?”  Seriously.

As I researched the local schools, it quickly came to my attention that “uniforms” are common in this area.  I am not used to that at all because where I grew up we were able to wear whatever we wanted as long as it wasn’t provocative or otherwise deemed inappropriate.  In fact, I have very fond memories of expressing my individuality through the style of clothes I chose to wear.  So imagine my dismay upon learning of the uniform requirements that my own child would face.  That was one of the factors that led me to initially attempt an out of district transfer request.  That did not pan out, but I will save that story for another day.  Ultimately we resigned ourselves to being relegated to the ranks of those that wear uniforms.  And not the cute hoity-toity custom private school uniforms.  No, the dress code is polo shirts and solid khaki and/or navy slacks.  Uck.

Challenge Accepted!

I decided to make the uniform situation work for us by thinking outside the box.  Sure, we could have simply ordered the standard outfits from the catalog the school provides or gone the easy route with French Toast everything.  But no, that is not our style. Oh, and did I mention how I detest pique polo shirts?  I think they are the worst, particularly as part of a sloppily put together school uniform.  God forbid the pique polo and standard issue slacks are ill fitting…I just cannot bear the thought!  But what’s the alternative?  Think J.Crew, Mini Boden, Hanna Andersson, Tea Collection, etc.  However, our budget doesn’t support that kind of shopping for the everyday essentials.  We’re more the Gymboree, Kohls & Old Navy set.  But really we pretty much shop at Target and Amazon for just about everything these days!  So that is where this shopping trip will take us today!

(more…)

ENDED ~ The 1st Tool You Should Invest in as a New Startup

This post may contain affiliate links

 

This is a great deal if you're looking for tips on growing your new business

** UPDATE: Oh pooh…you missed this year’s sale.  Don’t worry, you can still click the link to add yourself to the waitlist for next time!  **

As a fairly new blogger, I am involved in a lot of groups with not only other new bloggers but also tons of startup mompreneurs trying to get their businesses off the ground.  I love to see everyone’s entrepreneurial spirit buzzing with excitement, promise, and dreams for their future.  We are all looking for ways to close the door on the 9 to 5 to chase our dreams, attain financial freedom and be more present in the lives of our growing families.  There is no absence of drive or creativity, but sometimes we don’t know where to start.  That was the primary thing that held me back from starting, and becoming serious about, my blog sooner.  With blogging, as with other startup businesses, much of it is about building your brand.

Yes, I am telling you to treat your blog like a business {on one side anyway} and get serious about it!  But how do you do that?  Exactly…that is the question!  And I think I’ve got a pretty good answer for you here…

(more…)

August Goals & {Nonexistent} July Income Report

This post may contain affiliate links

 

It's cool to see a post like this from someone just starting out before they are actually making anything! I love to watch the progression!

 

Life & Goals

Wow, life has been CHAOTIC lately!  In general, things have been crazy since MR* and I both work full time, I am a full-time MBA student, have a home to run, a wild six-year-old to wrangle and a wily infant to nurture.  Now I’ve added this blog to the mix and I think I need about 8 extra hours each day to manage everything properly!  Then add in a 3-week visit from my sister & her hubby from Russia.  The visit ended with a bang as much of the family ended up with a wicked case of stomach flu…yikes!  All while I was working on my first brand ambassadorship for one of my all time favorite brands!  Needless to say, I am super behind in school and my house looks like a tornado just blew through!  So I realize that I need to sit myself down and focus!

How am I going to do that?  Goal setting!  I recently stumbled across a 5-year plan that I prepared almost exactly five years before I found it again.  I had truly not looked at it since I wrote it up because my life is one wild and crazy time after another.  I had prepared it while at my former job and emailed it to myself on my personal email and that is where it sat.  Anyway, once I found it again I was amazed that I had literally done (or almost completed) every single thing on the list and they were not small feats.  I realized that the simple act of putting it down did something to my brain or to the quantum physics of my life that kept me on my desired path.  So I will be posting that soon along with my new 5-year plan and I challenge you to write one up yourself.  Feel free to share!

That being said, I realize that there is something useful about goal setting and maintaining a focus.  So I will be preparing monthly goals to go along with my five-year plan.  These goals will include professional, personal and blog related goals and you guys will hold me accountable…thanks in advance!

(more…)

The Unique Way That We Pay for Childcare

This post may contain affiliate links

The cost of childcare is ridiculous these days! Learn about the unique way we pay for childcare that has saved our sanity!

 

Today I was talking to my hair stylist about our kids and about getting older.  We are both in our mid to late thirties and both considering having a 3rd child.  We discussed the age thing, the impact on the other kids, and the dads.  Then the conversation inevitably turned to the cost of and how to pay for childcare, as we are both in two career households.

Her children are both within two years of my oldest at 7 and 9.  And last time she was a SAHM and in a different relationship.  So she had never had the *pleasure* of paying more than the cost of housing or college to pay someone else to raise her kids.  Needless to say, I had to school her on the hard truth about the cost of childcare here in the Seattle area.

 

I just did some quick research and found that the average cost of infant care in the Seattle area is $1,083/MO.  To me, that seems low based on my experience, but I’ll go with it.  That’s for just ONE kid!  And it’s more than a year of tuition at the UW!  Crazy isn’t it?

 

Now let’s backtrack a minute to about 9 years ago when I was in those same shoes. I was so naive when I first began to suspect I might be pregnant back in 2008.  I truly believed that everyone got 3 months paid time off, that I would be immune to gaining any baby weight, and that childcare would be affordable.  By now I’m sure you’re laughing at 20-something me and my blissful ignorance!  Affordable childcare?  What is that?  It’s this thing we hear a lot about in political arguments, but none of us out in the trenches have ever seen it.

 

And as naive as I was back then, I was even more of a procrastinator and an idealist.  I truly believed the old adages that “everything happens for a reason” and “it will all just work itself out.” Wasn’t I precious?  So I visited a couple centers before I gave birth, but hadn’t nailed anything down before I had GQ.  And as my return to work date approached, I realized that I really should select a location and button everything up.

 

And then I got a phone call.  MR was calling to tell me that he’d been laid off and my heart sank into my shoes.  Now mind you, this was during the heart of the recession and there were no jobs to be had.  So I went back to work and he stayed home with 3-month-old GQ. And that was our life for two years.  It was tough, but in the end, he was still being raised at home by a parent.

 

And in hindsight, it was truly a blessing in disguise because of the unemployment benefits and all of the extensions available at that time.  We were probably in the same boat financially as we would have been even if he had been working.  That is if you consider the high cost of having to pay for childcare.

 

By the time GQ went to daycare for the first time he was already two, so the monthly rate was under $1,000.  But not by much.  So we pretty much worked to pay the bills and to have other people raise our kid.  This is why we put off having a second child.  For six and a half years!

 

But he got older and we became more stable.  We planned everything out perfectly…right?  Firts, we sat down with the cost sheet for the same daycare that GQ was attending and figured out how we would pay for their combined rates.  Plus we scheduled around my busy time at work.  We were on top of everything!  And we got pregnant on our second month of trying!  Winning at parenting!

 

So I called our daycare to reserve our spot and was informed immediately that it would not be possible because of some new regulations.  All of their spots were now reserved for the new Early Head Start infants & they were not accepting any private pay infants.  I freaked out but figured there must be somebody who had an opening.  Boy was I wrong!  Everyone had that same answer or a waitlist that stretched into eternity or cost $2,000+ per month.  We were screwed!  What to do?

 

So we hired a nanny.  And that was a whole new basket of issues.  We had some great experiences & some awful experiences between the three nannies that we dealt with over the course of 5 months.  I know…three.

How Do People Pay for Childcare These Days?

But even at the bare minimum a nanny ain’t cheap!  We were facing a child care bill that was about 150% of what we pay for our mortgage.  How can anyone afford to pay for childcare these days?  So, what…is child rearing now only a luxury for the rich?  It didn’t seem fair, but I understand that’s the thing with life…

 

We made it work for a little while but quickly realized that it was not sustainable if we kept doing the same thing that we’d been doing.  So we sat down to brainstorm.  How in the world were we going to make this work and continue to pay for childcare?  One of the thoughts that eventually came up was this idea of the side hustle.

 

If you’re not familiar with the side hustle, it’s really just any type of side project to make extra money.  It’s usually a little unconventional or novel and creative.  For some people, it’s selling essential oils, or overpriced leggings, or fancy shakes, or slimming body wraps.  Or it could be an Etsy shop or playing gigs in a band, and on and on.  And in this case, it led us down a path that has changed our lives in so many ways.

 

Related Reading

3 Things You Need To Do BEFORE Date Night As A New Mom

FREE Printable | Nanny Daily Sheet

 

Mister Mister

 

Now MR had been throwing around this one idea for ages, but it always seemed a pipe dream because he didn’t have the tools needed to make it a reality.  And that idea was rideshare driving.  But he had this old 2001 SUV that was his baby and you just can’t use a car that old.  So we put that idea to bed.  That is until he was in a wreck and totaled the truck.  Which led to a friend offering to sell him a fancy Saab for a killer price that was less than 10 years old!

 

This was the series of events that paved the way for MR’s side hustle.  Honestly, the ink was barely dry on the title before he signed up to drive with Uber!  Things moved fairly quickly and he was out on the road within about two weeks.  The plan was for him to drive weekends and some nights.  And that is exactly what he did.

 

It was like a miracle.  He immediately began averaging $20/hour and earning an average of $300/Week on top of the salary from his day job!  That’s around $1,200/month!

 

My Turn

 

Right around that same time, I realized that the blog I had been tinkering with might have the potential to earn some money itself.  This was a foreign thought to me as it may be to you.  However, I will quickly tell you how bloggers make money and you will have your “ah-ha” moment too!

 

First, they allow display ads on their blog.  Second, they write what are called sponsored posts.  That is where a company pays them to write about a specific product or service.  Third, they participate in affiliate marketing.  This is where they will write a blog post like normal, but add links to products or services that they naturally mentioned in the post.  If you make a purchase then they receive a commission.  And finally, many bloggers sell their own products like ebooks, printables, online courses, etc.  I have a friend who earns over $100,000/MO from her blog doing just those very things!

 

No, I’m not bringing in anywhere close to that!  I wish!  But some months I’ve earned around $300 and it continues to grow!  Not too shabby for a gal who just writes about mom life!

And That’s How We Pay for Childcare

So between the two of us, we are side hustling our way through the crippling cost of daycare!  And some months we have extra money left over!  It has been such a feeling of relief knowing that we have this extra money coming in so we don’t have to worry about how we’re going to pay our bills from one month to the next.  For a while there we were really worried about how we were going to keep all the balls in the air.  And finding our own unique side hustle(s) has made all the difference!

How do you pay for childcare?  Do you have any unique tips or tricks for other families reading this?  If so, please leave them in the comments below!  And if you’d like more information about driving for Uber click HERE.  Or if you think that starting a blog might be more your style click HERE.  And good luck to you as you navigate this special, and so very expensive, time in your life!

Update – May 2017

Since this was originally published MR was able to quit his day job to stay home with the boys during the day thanks to rideshare driving!  He also drives for Lyft now, but Uber remains his steady!  He made over $1,000 this week alone!  And we no longer have to pay for childcare!  Woo hoo!

15 Minute Quick Start Guide to Create A Mommy Blog

This post may contain affiliate links

Nice & simple...just like I like things! I think I'm finally going to get around to starting my mommy blog!

 

Birth of  A Mommy Blog

I started this blog originally because I wanted to help people find answers to questions that they have about parenting, budgeting, and daily life.  I also wanted to document my parenting and blogging journeys.  Over time I’ve gotten many questions on the process I took to create my mommy blog and how it’s become a successful “side-hustle” for me on accident.  I’ve begun making some extra spending money from blogging that has helped alleviate some of the financial burden associated with managing a household of four.  I am not one of those millionaire bloggers earning five or six figures every month…heck I’m just getting started so who knows what’s in store!  But for now, I just earn enough to make a dent in some of our credit card debt and pay for things like Christmas gifts, etc.!

Blogging is a fun outlet for me and it’s kinda cool to be able to earn a few passive income dollars along with it!  Though I don’t make a full-time income blogging, there are plenty of people who do.  So if you are a new mama who wants a creative way to earn income while staying home with your littles then blogging might be one way to do it.  If so, then this little tutorial on how to create a successful mommy blog might be calling your name right now!

Want to Work from Home {Or From Anywhere For That Matter}?

Blogging is PERFECT for stay-at-home moms or any gal that wants to kick the 9-to-5 grind to the curb and enjoy life more!  But you can’t get too far beyond the brainstorming phase without setting up your actual blog site, but how do you actually do that? I know, it seemed super complicated, daunting, scary, etc. to me too! However, you will be happy to hear that it really is easy as pie! And this brief tutorial will hold your hand and walk you right through it!  This post is not going to tell you every single thing you need to know about a blog.  This one is solely the initial setup for people who are asking questions like “where do I even begin?”, “how do I get my own website?”, “isn’t it really expensive to have your own site?”, “do I have to know about computers to have my own blog?”, etc.  I will cover strategy, training, and other tips on where you go from here in separate posts.  This is just your first stop on this wild blogging ride…step number one!

First of all, I am telling you that you need to just bite the bullet and pay for web hosting {it’s only $3.95/MO} so you can be “self-hosted”.  That just means it will be example >> thecoolestblogever. com as opposed to thecoolestblogever.wordpress. com. That’s what I recommend, both for aesthetics and credibility…it’s a real website then!  Now I can only recommend Bluehost to host your site and WordPress as a platform because those are the only ones I have experience with and have both been great for me so far.  I can also say that just about everyone is on WordPress, there is always a WP plugin for anything you might need down the road, and there are some ad networks that only work with select platforms and WordPress is always at the top of their list.  Those are the two things that you really need to make that critical first step.  Now make sure that you select your blog name before you get started so you know what domain name you will go with.  You can check here to see if the one you want is available:

Don’t psych yourself out because of all the jargon…Bluehost has this whole WordPress integration thing down to a science.  It just about completes itself!  Ok, are you ready? Let’s do this!
(more…)

coupon * coupon * coupon!

$2.00 off (1) Tide Detergent  Save $4.00 when you spend $15.00 on ANY Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Wet or Dry Cat Food.Expires 9/1/2016.Save $4.00.

COUPONS.COM

$1.00 off one Ripple Foods Bottle
$0.75 off ONE select V8 V Fusion and Energy
$1.00 off any 2 V8 Splash Products
$0.50 off one DANNON Light & Fit Regular 4-pack
$0.40 off any 3 Campbells Condensed Soup Products
$1.00 off any 2 Pace Picante Sauce or Salsa
$0.40 off any 3 SpaghettiOs pasta products
$0.50 off one Campbells, Pace or Prego Ready Meals
$1.00 off any 2 Prego Italian sauces
$0.50 off any 3 DANNON Light & Fit Regular SS Cups
$0.50 off any 3 Dannon Whole Milk SS Cups
$2.00 off (1) Tide Detergent

(more…)

A Tasty Treat for Lunch: Ezell’s Famous Chicken

Totally gonna try this fried chicken place next time I'm in Seattle!

I moved to Seattle, Washington almost 10 years ago and one of the first recommendations I overheard was that Ezell’s Chicken was the best.  You may have heard of Ezell’s by way of Oprah, as it is said to be her very favorite chicken which she would even have flown out to her in Chicago! You can also find photo’s of Ezell with Guy Fieri from the Packers vs. Seahawks episode of the Food Network’s “Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri” special episode TQ0201H on the Ezell’s Facebook page.  In other football news, Ezell’s was invited to cater to the fans in Detroit, MI (my home state) for the Super Bowl XL game between my lovely Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006 {the year I moved from MI to WA}.  And finally, Esquire Magazine named Ezell’s “The Most Life Changing Fried Chicken in America” in 2012!  Some impressive stats!

(more…)

It’s {COUPON} Time!! Print ‘Em While They’re Hot!

What I Want for My Sons: My Privilege

Sons Deserve Privilege

 

[Thoughts documented shortly after the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling + Philando Castile the Summer of 2016]

I’m at a loss.  I am at a loss for what to say, what to do, how to feel.  And I do…feel this loss, in a way that is unique to me.  These lost lives, lost innocence, a lost sense of how I would like to believe the world & society to be.  I so desperately WANT to believe that people are intrinsically good…at least deep down at their core.  That we’ve reached a collective “good place” where most people can happily coexist and thrive.

And I am wrong.  I’ve been shown over and over again that I am wrong.  Each time something like this happens my gut tells me to mourn this crazy exception to the rule, the outlier…this thing that is wildly out of the ordinary.  But I’ve slowly come to the realization that these tragedies are far from exceptional, far from atypical, far from isolated.  The only thing that’s “different” is the intensity of the light that’s beginning to shine.  Social media now acts as a global bullhorn drawing our attention to a few select incidents that cannot go unnoticed.  And then there are those that do not draw the same attention.  But they are there…occurring each and every day right before our very eyes, under our noses, in our backyards and all around us.  Yet we don’t even see it.

Privilege

What is that “we” really?  It’s me, people…like me, people unlike me, but with the same level of privilege.  The privilege that allows us to believe that things are on the right track, so much better than they were in our parent’s day.  The privilege that allows us to walk around in the world and not give thought or concern to where we may be going, how we may be perceived, or how a seemingly benign encounter may quickly escalate into a life threatening incident.

Ignorance is bliss, isn’t that what they say?  I can say that is true.  I’ve spent the majority of my 36 years blissfully walking along on my cloud thinking that all is right with the world.  I subscribed to all the old adages like “it will all work out”, “right always wins”, “good will triumph over evil”, etc.  I could go on and on.  And I did, I believed all of that.    It’s easy to believe when all of your needs are met as well as many, many of your wants.  When safety has never been a concern, when the police only represented protection, when your biggest concerns are true “first world problems.”

Please don’t get me wrong, I am truly grateful for every opportunity that I have been afforded and hope that I’ve done my best to take little of it for granted.  I do feel so very lucky & blessed.  Yes, all very easy to say, but what does it mean?  Probably not much of anything if it weren’t for one thing.  I am a mother. (more…)

Save on Tomatoes! 20% Cash Back with SavingStar!

%d bloggers like this: