Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Several months ago I wrote a post about my post-pregnancy cravings. I remember when I wrote that post, I was feeling pretty amazing. Eva was about two months old. I was generally happy, and I felt like I was keeping up on things. I remember praying daily during that time and thanking Heavenly Father that I was doing well emotionally and mentally. I was so grateful to feel healthy in the mind.

Somewhere between then and now, my mind slipped, and I haven't been as mentally and emotionally healthy. I've realized in recent months that the few times in my life I've dabbled in anti-depressants have been when I've had a mobile baby that refuses to sleep and a three-year-old, so the timing is just right for me to be a basket case.


Fortunately for you, this post is not actually about my mental and emotional state (though, if you are curious, I've managed to go from "drowning" to "doggy paddling 10% of the time"). This post is about my current cravings which are:

Meaningful Conversation

I've taken on a bit of a hermit lifestyle (see above paragraph about mobile baby who won't sleep and three-year-old who is being such a three-year-old), so I have this longing to be with another adult and talk about something other than whether the first day of the week is Sunday or Monday. 


When you're elbow deep in baby poop every day, it's really easy to disconnect from God and feel spiritually unavailable. I'm currently "just okay" in my relationship with God. We're "in touch," I guess you could say, but I'm craving some sort of direction from Heavenly Father that will motivate me to keep going. I need some "KaPOW!" kind of stuff. I need to be knocked upside the head with something that is just for me. Except not if it's going to hurt. I don't want it to hurt. I'm not thinking in terms of God giving me adversity to teach me big lessons. I'm thinking more along the lines of, "I love you and you're not horrible." I need to know that God doesn't think I'm horrible.

A "Win"

The other day I was thinking about how much I need to experience a moment of success right now. I'm just barely scraping by in all of my responsibilities. I need to accomplish something and feel good about it.

A Vacation

I would really like to go somewhere other than here for a few days. We've been cooped up for too long. We need to get out and be free! If I'm going to deal with kids fighting all the time, I might as well be somewhere exciting.

What are you craving?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

No Spend Month - Week 3

Allow me to begin this week's review with a glimpse inside my fridge. This was taken on Tuesday, so now, a few days later, the carrots, the lettuce, and one of the yogurt containers are gone.

See that container down at the bottom next to the eggs? Those are Scotty's fishing worms. We'll save those for when we're really desperate.


And the soy sauce and buttermilk? Not all that strange to have in a fridge, but there's a back story on those. Our friend, Nate, comes home from work every day and takes a shot of soy sauce straight from the bottle.


He drinks soy sauce.

And he also drinks buttermilk.

So the other day, our doorbell rang, and we opened it to find a bottle of soy sauce and a half pint of buttermilk with a note inviting us to "take up the flask."

(Somehow, we've been able to resist).
Empty fridge aside, I think we've been eating pretty well from our pantry, freezer, and food storage. We are lacking fresh produce and other perishables, but we're not to the point where we're eating tomato sauce for dinner. We're still pulling together some great meals.

Here's the run-down from this week:

Productive/Creative Tasks
  • Baked and froze some cookies (thanks to my friend, who brought me butter just to be nice) (seriously, I have good friends, right?) 
  • Found some new recipes to try
  • Sold a painting and used some of the money to go to lunch with my in-laws on President's Day (Is this cheating?) (I am addicted to The Habit) (teriyaki char with cheese and tempura-battered green beans)
  • Shopped at Smith's since they have free fruit for kids 
  • Made a double batch of homemade refried beans (and threw two portions in the freezer)
  • Started gathering eggs again (the chickens just started laying after a winter hiatus)
Neglected Items I Used
  • Frozen odds & ends (fruit, spinach, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic butter, biscuits, peas, lunch meat, pepper, onions)
  • Canned green beans
  • Pantry odds & ends (mini marshmallows, Chinese noodles, curry powder)
  • A box of gluten-free waffles (nasty!)
  • A box of mini pancakes 
  • Dried pinto beans
  • A jar of pepperocinis 
  • Apricot nectar 
Meals We Ate

No big temptations to report for this week. I even went to the grocery store for milk and didn't bat an eye!

How I Spent My $10 Cushion

(I had a $2.50 deficit from last week)
  • $4.65 (2 gallons of milk and a bag of rolls)
  • $.27 (Redbox movie with code) 
= $2.58 rollover for next week

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dream Jobs

Yesterday, my friend asked on facebook, something to the effect of, "If you had no limitation of skills or resources and could have any job in the world, what would you do?"

Well, we all know how I do with hypotheticals.

(Do I get to choose my hours? Am I only supposed to declare one job? Are my kids grown up?)

All of my crazy questions aside, I have a few jobs in mind, so let's just say that in hypothetical terms, it's possible to do them all and have perfect work/family balance.

In no particular order...

Professional Choreographer

I danced up until I graduated from high school. I'm okay that I'm no longer a dancer, but it kills me to not be able to choreograph. There are pieces of music that just make me want to create something. In my mind, music makes me see movement and feel emotions. I want to channel that into some amazing choreography.

Audio Book Performer

This may be my weirdest one, but I want to record audio books. This would be my little gig on the side, you know, the weird thing I do in my garage on weekends. Children's chapter books would probably be my preference. Maybe some YA.

College Professor

I would love to teach college courses on-campus. I'm not sure what subject, but it would be something I'm passionate about. Probably something in the social sciences. I don't want to be a little po-dunk community college instructor that's just working nights to have my student loans forgiven (some of these instructors are still fantastic teachers, but a number of them are passionless). I want to be Professor Britt, with a PhD and all sorts of published works but no ego. I want to really know what I'm talking about. I want to connect with my students and really inspire and push them.


I want to write books.

Nuff said.

(Then I can do my own audio books in my garage and read them the way they were intended to be read).

Motivational Speaker

There's a part of me that really wants to inspire people (if you can't tell from some of my other job choices). I'd love to go around sharing messages that impact people in a positive way. I'm not sure, exactly, what my subject matter would be, but marriage and family are always good. I'd also like to tackle some of the more difficult topics like pornography addiction, domestic abuse, or body image. Since I get to have unlimited talents and resources for this gig, I'm just gonna go ahead and cure the world with whatever I say.

A Yet-To-Be-Named Job That Makes a Huge Difference

I can't really choose what to put here because there are so many options, but if I had unlimited resources and skills, I would want to do something that makes a huge difference. It doesn't have to be a world-wide difference (though that would be awesome), but it needs to at least make a difference to a few people (which can still be huge).

I'd love to provide opportunities that might be hard to come by - perhaps helping refugee families or working with people who have addictions. Maybe a school for autistic children and people with unique learning needs.  Maybe a safe place for victims of domestic violence to get back on their feet. I'd love to open a facility that helps people heal or helps people learn. Or both.


It's hard to draw the line because I can think of a lot more things I'd love to do, but as you can see, I'm already pretty busy with my hypothetical careers as it is. If none of those work out for me, I'll just go ahead and re-open Jurassic Park. And get it right for once.

So, what would you do if you could have any job with unlimited resources and skills?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Simple Day

One of the biggest changes that has happened in my life in the past year and a half is that I've gone from being a stay-at-home mom to being a stay-at-home mom/student. My previous position as a SAHM wasn't easy, especially since Scotty was in school for the first 8 years of that role. My days were long and exhausting as I took care of children and managed the house. Now I am still taking care of children and managing the house, but I'm also reading hundreds of pages per week, cramming for tests, trying to squeeze in class meetings, and hiding in my basement to do online presentations on things like domestic abuse and cohabitation.

Now most of the decisions I make in a day are based on two things:
1. The unpredictable nature of my children
2. How it will affect my study

Since I never know if my kids are going to be agreeable or not, I have to fly by the seat of my pants in my schooling. If there is a peaceful moment, a 20-minute "Dora coma," for example, I have to choose how to spend that time wisely. Every minute spent on laundry, dishes, or other household work is a minute spent not studying or doing homework. I'm always weighing everything that needs to be done in my house against everything that needs to be done for school. Since school has more deadlines and pressures, school usually takes precedence. I never know how long I have or whether I'll be able to finish anything, so I'm forever starting and stopping. My life is lived in random spurts, and when I wake up in the morning, I have no idea if I'll succeed at anything at all because I don't know what's coming. I can't have a plan; I can only have a hopeful list of things I might be able to do in a day if things work out in my favor.

I can't decide if I'm doing a good thing or if I'm completely running myself (and my family) into the ground for no reason.

Today I'm craving simplicity, so I'm taking a day off from being a SAHM/S, and I'm just being a SAHM. I'm putting off my reading and studying (I may regret this later) and trying to be present for a while. I took my girls to the library to browse the books. I read to Zoe. I sat on the couch and held Eva just because I could. I made a nice lunch. I tidied up the kitchen. I did some laundry. I made a smoothie. I watched a few minutes of When Calls the Heart (my first Hallmark anything). I had a nice, long talk with Daisy about things we can do to be nice people. I copied down some new recipes. I went to the store for milk. I listened to a talk on CD in the car while I picked Daisy up from kindergarten. I made some updates to our budget for the month. I thought about baking some bread but didn't because Eva needed to go to the doctor (phew! That was close! I almost did it!).

My day hasn't been prefect, but it has been peaceful. I've missed doing "normal" things. I don't get to do things like look for recipes or hang out at the library regularly anymore, so it was nice to return to that lifestyle for a moment.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

No Spend Month - Week 2

Productive/Creative Tasks from This Week
  • Returned some things to Walmart
  • Used some free taco coupons at Del Taco 
  • Returned some things to Ross
  • Returned the gifts I bought my kids for Valentine's Day and exchanged them for less expensive valentines, then used a $2.68 gift card and the leftover $5 to buy everyone lunch at Cafe Rio (If you are paying attention, that's 2 trips to Cafe Rio in 2 weeks. I guess I have a problem) (we shared a tostada (I asked for extra lettuce) and the kids got free nino quesadillas).
  • Bartered for some chalk paint and painted a desk
  • Found a gallon of $5 mistinted paint in my basement that I bought last year and forgot about and used it to paint my bathroom vanity and my new storage room
  • Bought some cabinet hardware fr the bathroom vanity (6 drawer pulls for $10 that were regularly $5.97 each) (remember, we are remodeling the bottom levels of our house, so we are still making purchases for this)
Neglected Items I Used
  • A few cans of stewed tomatoes 
  • An old bag of frozen corn
  • Some taco seasoning left over from a family vacation 
  • Canned peaches
  • Tuna fish
  • Ramen

My biggest temptation is going out to eat. I think this will always be the thing that pops in my mind the most and that I have to remind myself to not do. Part of the reason it's so tempting is that there are small windows of time in each day where I need to burn about half an hour in between car pool stops, and that is the finest time to pop into a food establishment and grab a bite to eat. Also, I had a very heavy school load this week, so ordering a pizza would have been a real life-saver, but I stuck it out and fed my family at home. I am a big fan of eating food that was prepared elsewhere in order to prevent my kitchen from getting messier.

"Oops!" Moments
The kids didn't have school on Friday, so I took them to the Church History Museum (FREE!) We left as everyone was starting to get cranky and hungry for lunch. I knew I should have packed some food, but I didn't because it was so hard getting everyone out the door. I made up my mind that I was going to  cave in and stop somewhere for lunch. After all, a day off school warrants a Sam's Club hot dog combo or something, right? But as I was driving, I started thinking about how my kids know I'm doing No Spend Month, and I can't let them see me give up on a goal. I had a long internal battle in the 25 minutes it took to drive home, but eventually I made the final decision to come home and make Ramen.

How I Spent My $10 Cushion

(I rolled over $7 from last week)
  • $1 candy bar
  • $1.60 Redbox (my free code didn't work, which was a total bummer, and there were too many people in line behind me, so I was rushed) (Jurassic World, if you're wondering)
  • $13 hair cut
  • $4 milk (someone actually picked up the milk for me and didn't make me pay, but I'm deducting it from my balance anyway)
So, it seems I've already dipped into next week's $10 by about $2.50

Things I Learned About Myself
  • I consider taco soup to be the ultimate "armpit of the pantry" food
  • I waste a lot of gas while going places to spend money (not going to the store is saving me a lot of gas)
  • When I'm not spending money, I lose track of when pay day is. It's kind of nice to not be anticipating a pay check. Pay day came and went, and I didn't even know. When I checked the balance of our account and was pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

No Spend Month - Week 1

In order to hold myself accountable for no spend month, I'm going to do a summary at the end of each week. This week was, of course, the easiest because it's exciting and new. I'm sure I'll be over it by the end of the month, but for now, I'm going strong!

There are a few policies Scotty and I put into place for our spending freeze.

First, we are still making purchases for our remodeling project, but the money for that project is completely separate from our normal monthly income. It is money that we have saved and set aside over the course of several months. One of the reasons we wanted to do no spend month was because we'd like to save up some more money to go toward our remodel.

Second, we decided that certain gift cards are okay to use but others are not. I'm not sure how to word this, but it's okay to use gift cards to do things like see a movie or eat at a restaurant, but it's not okay to use a gift card that can purchase groceries or goods. The reason we made this decision is because if we use a gift card to go buy groceries or goods, it keeps us from using what we have and staying within our $10 cushion. It feels a bit like cheating.

Last, we are allowed to roll over our $10 weekly cushion.

Here's how week 1 went:

Productive/Creative Tasks from This Week
  • Cleaned out the pantry
  • Started sorting through the basement and listing things for sale in the classifieds
  • Participated in a medical study and earned $50
  • Bartered with a friend - I gave her some food I bottled in exchange for a pot roast and some steak (I can veggies, she buys cows - we make a good team) 
  • Got a FREE MEAL from Cafe Rio
  • Found a mistinted quart of paint for $5 at Lowe's and renovated the downstairs bathroom
  • Returned some things to Sam's Club
Things I Used Up

This month, I'm trying to use up some of the things from  my pantry and freezer that have been there a little too long (as opposed to "a lot too long" like the three bags of sunflower seeds that expired in 2014 that I threw out during my pantry cleaning).
  • A box of instant potatoes
Things That are Running Low

With as much prepping as I did for this challenge, it's still inevitable that I will run out of things unexpectedly. These are things I've discovered we are running low on.
  • Body wash/soap
  • Butter
  • Foundation (make-up) 
  • There is a pair of workout capris at Sam's Club that I really wanted to buy before I started this challenge, but I forgot.  
"Oops!" Moments
  • I forgot that I have Nicky scheduled for a haircut next week. I'm hoping to use our $10 cushion for this. 
How I Spent My $10 Cushion
  • $3.00 on candy bars. I needed chocolate. 
Things I Learned About Myself
  • I tend to spend money to fight boredom 
  • There are several times throughout the day that I suddenly get an idea to buy something completely unnecessary
In summary, I would say that we're doing really well so far, but the real challenge will be when we start running out of the "good food," and we have to start getting creative with what to eat.