My Tricycle Purse

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I love her! She is just what I was looking for, but I didn’t know it yet. I named her in memory of my childhood tricycle that my dad painted for me. It was a very similar blue color. Watch my video to learn more about buying on ebay and why I decided to get another WOC.

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Do your research on zippers to know which brand uses what zipper!

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Finances And Families

Why is starting a family expensive?

Sometimes I think that people can start a family on a shoe string budget and be fine. But then I think about how much we spend as a family of 6 and it really amazes me, in a bad way. I am always shocked at the end of the month when I go through the budget and see what was spent where because I never feel like I actually bought anything (except groceries)! This doesn’t even include the thousands of dollars a month we pay in child support or the thousands we have to pay our lawyers to keep defending us.

Necessities start to add up when you have more than one person who needs them. Things like tooth paste, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, socks, soap, q tips, you know what falls in this category. These things can get expensive because you have to buy enough for everyone. For example if we buy socks for the family we have to buy 2 packs per person and each pack is $7-$12. That is easily $120 JUST FOR SOCKS! If you are a parent you know the struggle is real with socks. They disappear and it’s usually impossible to find the other pair, so buying socks is a regular thing for families. Children grow quickly so we are constantly buying new clothes to keep up. We frequent Goodwill and believe strongly that hand-me-downs are a healthy part of growing up, but it still gets expensive. Kids wear through a good pair of shoes in 4 months – there’s another $200 or more for everyone. Now we go to medicines, doctors appointments, dental appointments, school, day-care, sports, these things can get extremely expensive (especially in our particular situation). I’m not even beginning to scratch the surface of the expenses. We still have household items like cleaning supplies, toilet paper (we go through a lot), paper towels, dishware, furniture, bedding, laundry detergent to clean mountains of laundry, tissues, the list goes on. And who can say no to the nifty baby gadgets that line the aisles claiming to make your life easier?

Obviously you’ll need a larger home which will raise your utilities. You’ll have to furnish this larger home and keep it clean (relatively). You need a car that fits your family and insurance to go with it. Expenses start to increase until you look back and think “WOW, we really spend this much every month?!” Oh and FOOD! We rarely eat out because it’s easily $100/meal so we buy a lot of groceries. I have to go grocery shopping more than once a week to keep our house stocked. Cooking healthy meals should be a priority so that means shopping regularly for non-processed foods. It pains me every time we give in and eat out because I know we just spent $100 on a meal that probably cost $20 to make. A family of 6 goes through a ton of food every week – even more the older your children are.

Once your bases are covered with day to day living expenses THEN you can think about vacations, presents, family outings, college funds, and savings if there’s anything left. It’s no wonder why the average American has collected debt. Living is expensive. Especially if you have to provide a life for your children….and our 120lb Rottweiler.

Like I mentioned before, we rarely eat out to save money. We use cloth diapers and re-usable baby wipes for the majority of the diapering. We go camping for vacations and take picnics in parks. Clothing gets passed down when it doesn’t fit anymore. We shop for items on sale whenever possible. We try to not be wasteful with our resources. Shopping at thrift stores for clothing, especially on a 50% off day. Find discounted family fun on Groupon to save some money. Sometimes Groupon runs a 20% off sale that I combine with Ebates to get up to 26% off the cost. Cutting costs is really part of my full time job as parents. We can’t afford everything we want but we do pretty good balancing the books. It’s just something you have to be aware of every time you pull out your wallet.

 

Our Bodies Don’t Agree With Society

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It seems like every year society pushes back the age it believes women should start families. A few years ago 30 seemed like the “accepted” age to have your first child, but lately I’ve been hearing 35. Obviously there are lots of reasons why some people wait until their 30’s but one of the main reasons I hear is – “I want to enjoy my life first”. My first thought when I hear that is probably WTF? Really? So you think that your life STOPS when you become a parent? Do we just shrivel up and become robot parents raising kids who aren’t able to enjoy life anymore? Having children IS A PART OF LIFE! It’s horrible but this is the picture society has painted for the world. I understand there are people who just aren’t ready and that’s fine. I completely understand not being ready, but there is a physiological clock ticking. The younger generations are being taught to look down on having children in their 20’s because they assume that having children earlier means you have LESS life experiences. Society has pushed adolescence through to late 20’s creating the belief that we are too young to start a family in our 20’s. There is a huge divide within society that shows couples without kids have exciting fun whereas couples with kids have family fun. Why can’t parents have both kinds of fun? Sometimes it’s hard for parents to go have the exciting fun because let’s face it, people are judgmental. They like to label you as an irresponsible parent if you enjoy doing anything BUT taking care of your kids.

Have you ever seen the movie Idiocracy? In the beginning of the movie you meet a career driven couple who decide to put off a family. Well they continue to put it off until infertility plagues them and eventually the husband dies of old age. The wife continues to try to use his frozen sperm to try to conceive after his death. This scene just sums up societies agenda. If you are in a stable relationship and can afford a family then why not go for it?

So why does it bother me so much that I hear women saying they want to wait until 35? It’s their life they should be able to decide when, with, and how right? It bothers me because the human body doesn’t evolve with societies ideas. A woman’s fertility starts to decline by their late 20’s. By age 35 you are considered “advanced maternal age” which leaves you open to infertility, high risk pregnancies, health risks to you and the baby. It seems like the need to “live MY life” has become more important than the life of their future baby, and that is what bothers me. There are plenty of women that have their FIRST child after 35 and everything turns out fine. But why risk the health of your child because YOU are not ready to enter a new chapter? How do we know this movement to have children later in life doesn’t have consequences that will show up in the next 100 years. A child could be born to a 35 year old mother –  physically healthy and not suffer from a disability until later in life. Now the question would be ‘If the mother were 25 instead of 35 would the child still have this disability’? This question will probably never be answered…. but it’s a valid question to ask. Only time will tell if women having children in their late 30’s are creating life with handicaps.  Sometimes you just have to buckle down and make responsible decisions, even if it’s not how you feel. I know some people don’t have a choice when they conceive, and I am not trying to bash people for waiting. My distaste is towards this specific idea “I don’t want to have kids until 35 because I want to have MY time”. You don’t have that unconditional love for your unborn children yet, but if you did you’d NEVER do anything that could potentially harm them. So make the responsible choice.

Did your life stop after having children? I know mine didn’t. It changed… A LOT that’s for sure. Parents live life on a different level and people without children can’t relate. People can tell you day and night what it’s like to be a parent, but you won’t get it until you are one. Life is busier and we don’t have the same amount of ME time, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Being a parent is WORK and society doesn’t like work. I can’t even compare life before and after my daughter. Babies bring so much meaning to your life but they also bring a whole lot of stress. Everyone hears about the joys of parenting but with the joy also comes heartache and worries. Your relationship with your spouse changes too. Tom and I still spend time together and we travel a lot more than the average family…….. but it’s different. Family time is not time for US as a couple so it’s important to take time away to be together. It’s not a good sign if parents feel like they aren’t living the life they want. Sometimes we can’t change our circumstances but we can always change our outlook.

My Pathfinder Love Affair

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I searched high and low 3 years ago for a mid size SUV to buy. I originally went in wanting a Toyota Highlander, but was very unhappy with how Toyota did business. It was a lot of Yo yo games like ‘we can’t go lower than…’ but then a day later we would get a call saying ‘ok we got a great deal for you!’. Well after 2 weeks of the “Toyota Game” we were tired of it. They even brought the price down to what we wanted, but by then we weren’t interested in doing business with them anymore. We went on to look at the Durango and ended up really liking it, but they didn’t have a V6. It seemed like a lost cause until I clicked on the Nissan website to find the re-designed 2013 Pathfinder. I loved it in the pictures and later that day I went to the dealership to see it. Once I sat in it I knew it was my car. We leased a black on black 2013 Pathfinder and I have been happy with it ever since.

My lease on the Pathfinder is coming to an end so this weekend we started test driving every SUV out there. There were some good options out there, but just not what we needed. Looking at all these cars ended up reinforcing my love for the Pathfinder. After days of test drives and numbers we found ourselves at Nissan. It ended up being a big PITA because Nissan didn’t have any cars on the lot that had everything we wanted. We weren’t in a hurry so we decided to just wait until they found a car for us. Yesterday we went in to look at a car, but they sold it before we arrived! Amazingly enough they found an even better option fresh off the truck still in plastic. We looked at it for about 15 minutes and we loved it. Next was the ‘not so fun’ part of having to barter with the dealership to get the price down to where we would be comfortable. After 3 hours we were finally ready to sign all the papers for the new car. Unfortunately I didn’t even get to take it home because it was too late. I had to pick it up this afternoon. Well let’s say I was SUPPOSED to pick it up in the afternoon but true to form the dealership made me wait until after 6pm. As you can see in the pic I traded in my black one for a white one. I had wanted a white one since the beginning, but black was the only thing available at the time. So now we are done with the car buying gauntlet. Getting a new car is fun…….once you get past all the crap that goes along with it.

 

Skin & Co Magnificent Body Oil

I am a new fan of body oil. This skincare brand was really interesting to me because they use ingredients like truffle in this skincare line. I have several other items to try from them, but this oil has quickly become a staple in my skincare so far. I find it so much easier to spray it on a cotton pad vs. applying moisturizer. I’ll be updating my progress in another 2 weeks.

Customize Your Fitness

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Lots of people ask how I lost my baby weight and how I keep it off. I freely share the tips that worked for me, but I rarely see people who actually try them. When it comes to eating and exercise you have to do what works with YOUR body. All the numbers out there used to calculate what your body needs are just estimates. They could give you numbers so far away from reality that it could hinder your fitness. Take the Max HR for example. There are several “equations” to calculate your Max HR. You’ve probably seen this equation Max HR = 220 – age, but I find it very unlikely that EVERY 20 year old in the world has a max HR of 200 bpm. So lets start with the tip that I recommend to EVERYONE – do metabolic testing.

Most gyms and fitness spas offer metabolic testing and it’s usually $100-$200. These tests will tell you what YOUR body needs. Knowing things like your VO2 Max and resting HR are important because it will teach you how to exercise for your body In addition to those, you’ll also learn how your body burns calories and in what HR zones. The first time I did metabolic testing I was on a very strict low calorie diet only to discover after the test that I wasn’t eating enough to support my body. Once I added more calories to my routine I started seeing great progress. I like to get tested twice a year in order to stay current on my fitness levels. The numbers from this test will change with your fitness levels so you’ll have to re-test to see where you are.

My second tip AFTER metabolic testing would be WEAR A HR MONITOR. How are you supposed to exercise efficiently when you have no idea what level your body is at? I am someone who tends to exercise too hard and it has caused me to suffer from “overtraining” on more than one occasion. I admit that my idea of ‘exercise’ is quite dysfunctional so I never exercise without wearing a HRM. I can use the information from metabolic testing to keep me on track and avoid injuries and plateaus. This information is out there for everyone so why not obtain it? I recommend Timex and Polar HRM with chest straps.