iCate

laid off and learning to love it… my journey from corporate sprinter to life marathoner

sahm: mama wants a new dress (or two) 01/23/2010

Filed under: General — ccatet @ 10:40 pm

sure, i bought a wedding dress less than 5 years ago. but since then, nada on the dresses. oh wait, i did buy a cute gap maternity dress that was extremely functional, at the time. who knows where that thing is now… i gave it away, or sold it. my point is that i am not a girl who typically wears dresses. i prefer yoga pants and dri-fit tees, jeans and sweaters, track pants and fleece zip ups.

yet lately, i see all the spring dresses coming out and i long for a beautiful dress. i have no idea why.

my brother is getting married this year and i am thrilled for him. he also asked me to stand up for him which in the world of siblings is pretty amazing and wonderful. this is especially true for us since we used to beat the crap out of each other. we had a love/hate thing going on for most of our young lives. when he moved within 20 minutes of my family a few years ago, it was nothing short of fabulous.

i have decided that his wedding and the reception (which will be held in another place on a different date) are the perfect occasions to buy pretty dresses.

for me.

wow – does that mean i will get two dresses this year? i am chomping at the bit to start looking.

and the shoes? i am salivating at the thought.

i have already decided that i will be saving my pennies for this. i will focus on design and fit versus cost and coupons. this will be hard considering most days i am laser locked on savings.

secretly, i have a feeling it will be very easy to spend a lot of money, even just for a moment.

but i can do it. i am up for the challenge.

 

sahm: mama’s night out 01/18/2010

Filed under: Daddy,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 9:41 pm

a few months ago, I was in a rut. although my kids were happy, my husband was happy, our budget was on track, the house was clean and organized, and we had plentiful friends and playdates – unfortunately, i was not really happy. for several weeks i wracked my brain but i could not figure out why.

then it hit me. when was the last time i left the house and spent time alone with a friend? TOO LONG. in fact, when i realized it had been a long time, i looked at the calendar and noticed it had been almost 6 weeks. SIX WEEKS without quality time with a friend. how had i let it happen?

oh, but life got in the way.

being the type A that i am, i knew if i didn’t schedule/dedicate a time to getting out, perhaps once a week, i would never do it and time would continue to pass me by. i love being with my family – the four of us. but i was torn by the need to breathe, slow down, be with friends and feel like something other than a mama for a few hours.

i picked a day that seemed good for my husband’s schedule. for planning purposes, we agreed this would be “daddy-night” every week: he would take care of the kids and i would leave sometime after 5pm to either have dinner or coffee with a friend, run errands or just go somewhere and relax by myself. in my excitement, i immediately sent a few emails to get some “dates” on my calendar. i never looked back.

it’s been over three months and i reflect back on the time i have spent with these amazing friends with a great deal of happiness. they make me laugh, cry and keep me connected to the world with something other than facebook. everyone is busy and i appreciate their friendship and time now more than ever since i am a bit isolated in my new world. however, i am a better mom when i can make the time to do something for myself.

i have some sahm friends who never get away from their kids and rarely take time for themselves. to each his own, but that is not me. not only do i want my kids to see that it’s alright for me to go spend time with friends, but i also want them to know that their daddy is fully capable of caring for them. he seems to enjoy this time with them an enormous amount which makes me love him even more, if that’s possible.

sahms don’t get a break: we’re always on. we also have the same challenge as moms who work out of the home in that there are never enough hours in the day. i never understood this until i became a sahm after working outside of the home for several years. even now, i am NEVER caught up on EVERYTHING, but i don’t know many moms who are. such is life with little ones.

however, later this week when i go out, i will have dinner with a good friend whose company i really enjoy. thankfully, i will forget all about the things i am behind on… at least for a few hours.

 

sahm: coupon intimacy 01/10/2010

Filed under: Organization,Saving Money,Stockpile — ccatet @ 11:00 pm

i am often asked where i find the time to organize myself and my coupons to maximize our savings. here’s my secret: coupon intimacy. i seriously know my coupons inside and out… of the binder. yes, i am a nerd: i have a coupon binder, fancied after one i saw put together by a fellow (albeit much more active) blogger. click here to check out her version.

putting the damn thing together was a big time investment and medium cost investment: searching for and buying materials, creating categories and labels, and finally, getting the coupons in. i spent about 3 hours and $50 completing these tasks before i was pseudo-functional.

now comes the maintenance: i try to take 45-60 minutes every week to maintain the binder: pulling out last week’s ads, reviewing the new week’s ads, removing expired coupons, sorting and filing any new coupons, and finally making my list. if i have time, i go back and look for price matching opportunities for items on my list. most weeks, i am lucky to get these tasks completed prior to my shopping trip. usually my daughter is belly-flopping on the coupon stacks or my son is asking which coupons he can have. i want to scream, “NONE!” i do restrain myself and typically give him a few expired coupons to play with, which he loves.

overall, i do the best i can with the time i have. what i have learned in almost 9 months of living with a coupon binder is that the most important thing is coupon intimacy. if i have only a few minutes, i have to know my coupons. if i don’t know what’s in that binder, i cannot save.

at a minimum, this means that i take the time to see what coupons i have (plus the ones that just came in the paper) and compare them to what is on sale in the store ads. when making my list, i aim to purchase items that fall into the sweet spot: where they are on sale and we have a coupon. over time, i have been able to build a mental list of “buy prices” for every item. often when i get to the store, i stumble on unadvertised sales. if i know what coupons i have, i can easily determine if the cost is at or below my buy price and make a quick decision on whether to buy.

the beauty of the coupon binder is that you can drop it entirely for a few weeks if you run out of time (or just need a break) and pick it right back up when you’re ready to invest the time again. i have not had to walk away yet, but it’s nice to know it’s possible.

also, my husband is verbally appreciative of the time i invest with the binder. i know he recognizes the financial benefits and reaps the rewards when i stumble on a good deal for him (usually peanut butter or gatorade). however, he would prefer that i keep the binder out of the bedroom… too much competition.

 

sahm: preschool days 01/04/2010

Filed under: Laid Off,Parenting,SAHM Choice — ccatet @ 10:00 pm

one would think that preschool would be no big deal for someone who put their child in daycare starting at 12 weeks of age, right? wrong. even though he attended full time until he was 27 months old (and i became unemployed), this adventure feels very different.

when i was laid off last year, i quickly sought out a preschool for my son to try to keep him socially engaged. however, i could not find one for kids under 3. i found an “early 3” program but he couldn’t start until january 2010… so i completed an early enrollment in my excitement and wondered where life would lead us in 2010.

since then, i have grown quite fond of spending the days with my two kids. i like our slow, easy mornings. i also like our playdates and new friends. i like letting them relax and explore whatever appeals to them on the days where we have no plans. as the snow fell this morning, it was stamps and ink pads followed by building the tallest cushion tower ever (which of course the kids had to tumble down)!

when november 2009 rolled around, i had to make a final decision on enrollment. i hemmed and hawed. i cried to my husband: i could not imagine being away from my son and would miss him too much! my husband reminded me that it was only two hours, two days a week. plus, it would give our son a chance to learn new things and give me solo time with my baby girl. i took a deep breath, signed all the papers and mailed in our payment.

next week is his first day. guaranteed, i will be the one crying.

the big difference to me is that he is now a walking, talking, potty-using preschooler. he has grown into an observant, loving and articulate little guy who i love spending the day with. i have to remind myself that preschool is not daycare. yes, he will learn new things but thankfully in a small class with a low key setting. also, he will still get to share the majority of the day with his sis and i – for which i am extremely thankful.

he must know change is coming. tonight as i carried him into his room, he whispered, “thank you for taking care of me, mommy.”

i miss him already.