Archive for the ‘Loving Life’ Category

2012 Was a Very Good Year

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

2 Pennies 2 Rub has been on an unintended hiatus for most of 2012.  As I look back on the year, I can see how things got so busy and am sorry to have missed sharing some special moments with you.

A Year of Firsts

The kids’ first trip to the zoo to see real live animals!  And what’s better than animals? The train that we rode on at the end of the zoo trip.

The kids’ first Easter Egg Hunt.  Momma was smart by giving them buckets.  They’re easy to carry and hold tons of loot.  Once Oliver figured out there was candy in the eggs he was off running.  The other kids didn’t stand a chance.

The kids’ first Strawberry patch.  I have fond memories of picking strawberries with my family when I was young.  I also remember being very messy and sticky by the time we were done, but not remembering how I got that way.  Well, the kids were nice enough to remind me!

Evelyn’s first trip to the fair and Oliver’s first fair ride all by himself!  Evelyn was not thrilled that she was too short to ride the train.  However, she did like the roasted corn, cotton candy, hot dogs, turkey leg, and candy apples!

Oliver started preschool and took his first ride on the bus this year.  He takes the bus to and from school every day.  He loves, loves, loves riding the bus and going to school.  We even went to our first school fair and the kids saw their first hot air balloon and won their first “prizes” for playing some games.  They were some of the smallest kids there amongst the 1st – 5th graders and I was so proud that they held their own with the big kids.

The kids’ first Halloween Trick or Treating door-to-door.  We were a family of pirates and the kids did absolutely fantastic.  They caught on to the concept very fast and dutifully said “Trick or Treat!” and “Thank you!” at every house.

Their first visit with Santa Claus.  Evelyn climbed right up into his lap and gave him big hugs.  Oliver sat with me on the floor and told Santa that he wanted, “Presents. Lots of presents!” for Christmas.  He also said he wanted pancakes. :-)

A Year of Change

Over the summer we looked for houses to buy in Georgia and came across this one.  It was a foreclosure with all sorts of problems.  It suffered inside and out from several years of neglect.  Being the people that we are, we (I) fell in love with it and we bought it!

Over Labor Day weekend, we packed up and moved in.  Although we grew to love our little rental, we haven’t looked back yet.

Our house has many challenges that will keep us busy for YEARS to come, but it is all worth it to give our kids a safe place to play, a fun place to explore, and the room to grow.

A Year of Family

Moving to Atlanta put us closer to both of our families even as it took us farther from our friends.   Our lives have been busy with many visits from Grandparents, family and friends.  We have been on the road for many trips back to NC and to Florida to keep in touch with those close to our hearts.  In 12 short months we have had 11 road trips or home visits!!!  We will kick off the new year with a trip to Raleigh in February and have a big trip to Chicago and Grand Rapids on the books for July.  In between those trips we have 3 different sets of visiting friends and family.  Amazing!

Our family has also changed over the year.

In one year Oliver has grown into such a handsome little boy.  He turned 3 in June and is such a sweetheart.  He talks and talks and talks now and has started with the questions.  He is very tall for his age and runs and plays with the big kids all the time.  He knows how to write his own name, counts to 30, and has started to spell in school.  Oliver loves playing on the playground with his schoolmates, playing with trains and big trucks of all sorts, and watching Mighty Machines, Fireman Sam, Thomas, and Curious George.  Best of all, he loves his little sister (Ellie) and they are best buds.  He takes care of her when she needs help, he reaches things that are too tall for her, he actively plays with her, and they crack each other up.

In one year Evelyn has become my little Princess G.I. Jane!  She JUST turned two in November and is already speaking at close to a 3-year old level.  She brushes her own teeth, washes her hands, gets mostly dressed and all the way undressed by herself, and is mommy’s little shadow.  She wants to do everything that I do from putting on makeup (chapstick and a clean face brush), carrying her own purse when we go out, to cleaning and setting the table.  And of course, she wants to do everything that her older brother does.  She will wear his boy clothes, with her tutu and princess tiara.  She mimics everything he does and follows him wherever he goes.  She calls him “Ahber” and it’s so sweet to hear her calling for him when she wakes up.

No matter what year it is we are thankful to be together and to have people in our lives that love and care for us.  We are looking forward to 2013.  I hope to get back to blogging in the New Year.  There’s still money to save, tips to be shared, and love to spread to everyone. 

From our family to yours, we wish you a very Happy New Year full of good fortune and good health.  Welcome 2013!

Custom Baby Pom Pom Hat on Etsy

Friday, October 28th, 2011

It dipped down to a chilly 46 degrees today by the time I took the kids to the grocery store this afternoon.  Luckily, Evelyn has the cutest little hat to keep her noggin warm! 

One of my friends has a shop on Etsy and sells handmade crochet items such as scarves, cowls, and these cute as a button pom pom hats.  You can visit her shop, afternoonowldesigns, by clicking here.  Rebecca also does custom orders.  If you see something you like, but want a different color or want to tweak something here and there you just send her a message.

From the minute we got out of the car to the minute I put her back in, people were commenting on the hat.  “She’s adorable!” “How precious.” “Where can I get one?” “Is that handmade?”  Almost makes me want to buy one for myself!

If you haven’t heard of Etsy.com you should really check it out.  Simply stated on Etsy’s site, “Etsy is the world’s handmade marketplace.”  People from around the world post hand made items online for other’s to purchase.  Eveything from clothes, crochet, pottery, paper, dolls, jewelry, furniture, housewares, art, and woodworking to decorations, purses, candles, soaps, plus much more can be found there. 

I love shopping on Etsy for the uniqueness and quality of the items, but also to support my fellow craftsperson.  If you have a hobby that you love, why not share it with the world?  If I ever find the time, I’d love to join Etsy and open my own shop.  Maybe I’ll try my hand at pom pom hats for adults.  :-)

Thanks Rebecca – We love the hat!

Happy Fourth of July 2011

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

This year we decided to celebrate the 4th at home again.  During our trip to Florida last year, we stocked up on legal fireworks (a.k.a. nothing that would leave the ground).  In the middle of home renovation craziness, we invited family and friends over for a little bbq.  Nothing motivates us to finish projects more than having a house full of hungry people!

Last year, Oliver loved watching the sparklers and fountains.  This year – not so much.  Aside from the bright lights and loud noises, he/we didn’t care too much for the pouring rain.  When it was too wet for the fuses to stay lit, my brother became a one man show with a fistful of sparklers.  We abrubtly ended the display when an exploding firecracker scared the wits out of the kids. 

My brother made a comment that has stuck with me all day.  He looked up from his show and said that he saw a lot of babies where we were sitting.  The hubby took a picture and here we are with the 4 kiddos.

I cannot believe our little gang of 6 has grown to 10 in just 2 years! Our nights of board games, wine, and sushi have come to a momentary halt.  Instead, there are afternoon get togethers that end before bedtime, lots of baby juggling as mommies try to eat, hundreds of dirty diapers and hours of breastfeeding breaks.  Everyone takes turns feeding hungry open mouths, chasing after toddlers and doing the shushing, bouncing, soothing walks to and fro.  The kids entertain us in ways that boardgames didn’t and frustrate us in ways that even a tight game of Monopoly can’t beat (on second thought, Monopoly is serious business around here).

Moving away from here will be bittersweet.  We are 100% committed to leaving this city and our pros list is far longer than cons.  On the other hand, leaving our cozy group is a heavy con to weigh.

Here’s to the last 4th of July in our little house and to family and friends that make these days memorable.  I hope you had a good celebration yourself.

Squealing Baby

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Evelyn squealed with delight when she found out she was 5 months old.  5 months!  I can’t believe it.  She is growing so fast.  She is in 6 – 9 month clothes and has almost double her birth weight already.  She loves cooing and squealing and can almost roll over at will. 

Oliver gets a big kick out of her now that she is more interactive. 

Apple Thief Caught Red Handed

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Apples beware!  If you come to my house, you risk being gnawed at and hidden underneath a coffee table, chair, or pillow to wither away to nothing…

For the past few weeks, we’ve come across a variety of mutilated apple corpses hidden all around the house.  Some have their skin nibbled off.  Some have only the butt left – no seeds, no stem.  The rest of them have been generally nibbled and gnawed and left for me to find behind some chair or under a pillow.  The only culprit, based upon the tiny teeth marks, is my son and I couldn’t figure out how he was getting the apples from the fruit basket.

While feeding Evelyn one day, I happened to catch Oliver in the act!  He was oblivious to us and climbed on top of a Rubbermaid container to get to his treasure. 

What’s even funnier is that I have also found an orange with 4 little teeth marks scraped across the skin that he tried to eat and put it back in the basket. 

The best is the rotten banana that I threw away.  The banana had rotted from the middle outward.  Upon closer examination, he had bit clear through the skin with his upper teeth in the middle of the banana.  Not able to get the banana out, he put it back in the basket where it rotted from the bruising.

Our son is sneaky, sneaky! and too darned cute.  :-)

Meet The Baby Party – A celebration of life

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

My little froggy is 3 months old!  This past weekend we had her coming out party and invited friends and family over to meet her.

She was a trooper for the party.  She went from person to person and smiled and cooed at everyone.   She is such a little flirt!

Oliver liked having everyone over, especially his little buddy.  I’ll have to get permission from his folks before I post a pic of him, but Oliver and his friend are so adorable.  They bring out the best in each other.  His friend was eating raw veggies and for the first time ever, Oliver wanted to eat raw veggies too!  He ate an entire bowl.  :-)

When Oliver was 3 months, we also had a meet the baby party.  It wasn’t until Evelyn that I realized these parties are becoming popular and that there are so many questions floating around on the internet.  Should I have a baby shower or a meet the baby party?  Should we throw it ourselves or does someone host it for us?  When is the proper time to have one-  2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, etc…?  Should people bring gifts?  What do we serve?  Who do we invite – men, women, children?

Let me clear a few things  up – you are inviting people to come meet your baby – you do it any way you want to, simple as that!  You are the hosts of your party (it’s your kid after all), you decide when you are ready to have guests and when your baby is strong enough.  If you want gifts or not, that is up to you to specify on the invite.  Some people are skipping the baby shower all together and create a registry for the meet the baby party.  Others specify that presents are optional or not necessary.  You serve what you are up to serving.  If you love cooking, whip up some gourmet appetizers.  If you work full-time, have two kids, and are busy, busy, set out a veggie tray, chips and dip, and sodas.  You invite whoever you want to meet your baby, whether it’s men, women, familes, etc…

For us, we chose 3 months for both the kids.  At 3 months, they are healthy and strong.  Their sleep and eating schedules have settled down and become somewhat predictable.  Their immune systems have toughened up and their little heads aren’t so floppy.  At 3 months, mommy and daddy have somewhat recovered from new baby craziness and the house is somewhat clean again.  Presents were not necessary for us and we served up a simple fare of chips, dip, veggies, brownies, soda, and water.  The party was scheduled from 3-5pm and lasted until 6pm.  We kept it simple and everyone had a great time.  Oliver had an awesome playdate and Evelyn got to charm everyone.  What more could you ask for?

If you are having a baby, you might want to think about throwing your own party.  It’s nice for the people in your life to get a chance to meet your little bundle of joy and you get a chance to be the proud parent.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 14th, 2011

I told my hubby that I loved him and he shined my shoes.  That was our Valentine’s Day.  We also ordered Chinese food so I wouldn’t have to cook and clean the kitchen.  Oliver made his daddy a card that he managed to sneak into daddy’s workbag with mommy’s help.  Evelyn’s present was to sleep through dinner so we could eat in peace. 

Are we Valentine grinches?  Do we shun the flowers/chocolate/ jewelry, because we are trying to be frugal?  I think it’s a mix of both.  There are already enough days in the year when we spend money on each other – birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and mother’s/father’s day.  We are burnt out on the obligatory holidays.  Another large part of our grinchiness is our new lifestyle.  With so much of our lives revolving around our babies we feel guilty taking time or spending money on ourselves. 

Of course, people will bombard me with hundreds of “you don’t need to spend money to show someone you love them” comments.  To that I say, you also don’t need to wait for that one day a year to show them you love them.  If love is free, then show it every day.

Our V-day might not have been fancy, but it was not without romance.  I told my hubby I loved him by scrawling it on these huge white boards we installed in our hallway so he would see it when he walked by.  On the other hand, he spent over an hour restoring my favorite ugly, but oh so comfy, shoes that he sees me wear all the time.  It was perfect…

Hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s day too!

100 Posts for 2 Pennies!

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Fourth of July fireworks in NYC

Wow – This is my one-hundredth post for 2 Pennies! I feel that I can officially call myself a blogger now.

I have been striving for this day since I started this blog last March. It always seemed so far away and suddenly, here it is! We have big plans for the blog this year and even bought a nice, big whiteboard that we are installing this weekend to keep track of our progress.

Here are some changes that you may notice:

1) Re-categorization of posts – After writing 100 posts, I’ve seen definite trends in some subjects over others. I am going to streamline my categories, then retag my posts to fit the new categories. My wish is to make it easier for you to find the info you want.

2) Scheduled topic days – Every Friday, I want to blog about food, mostly frugal recipes. I’m also going to start adding some Thai inspired meals that you can do yourself (will need my mama’s help for that). Every Saturday, I will do a “Sound Off” and just free blog about what is going on in our lives and what you may see coming up in the blog. The other days will be filled with posts about ways we are saving money as we live it, such as a series on gardening as I get my garden going, projects for children as I play with and teach our kids, or more experiments with do it yourself products as we need to use them.

3) Give-aways – Our first give away will be to celebrate our 1-year anniversary in March. After that, I will be sponsoring give-aways throughout the year where you will have an opportunity to win something nice.

4) Interviews, guest-bloggers, and blog reviews – The blogosphere is filled with people who have ideas for saving money, living frugally, and loving life. What makes blogging so special is that we feel like we belong to a community and we love sharing with others. I want to bring more of their insight to you.

5) A post every 48 hours – My personal challenge is to reach 200 posts this year, barring unusual circumstances. If I posted once every 48 hours, I would have 182 posts at the end of the year. All I need to do is squeeze another 18 posts in there somewhere. My ultimate goal would be 313, which is every day but Sundays!

6) Learn PHP and brush up on tech stuff – PHP is the scripting language that drives my blog. It is vastly different from what I used to do in my old IT days. I want to learn PHP so that I can tweak my blog, make it more user friendly, fix bugs (yes, I know there is a compatibility problem in Internet Explorer), and make it look “pretty”. There is also tons of stuff behind the scenes that I need to brush up on, as I haven’t been a true “techie” since 2001.

Let’s see how I do after the next hundred posts! That should put us at July, which coincidentally, is the same halfway point for my New Year’s resolution to lose 40lbs this year. Wish me luck!

Visit from a friend to kick off the New Year right

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

We have definitely sacrificed to live the frugal life.  We eat out less -much less, we rent movies in lieu of the theater, we go to shows and concerts once in a blue moon, and don’t go out to shoot pool or bowl anymore.  Sometimes it can be frustrating, but we kept one happiness – good friends.

My girlfriend from New York came down to visit this New Year’s weekend.  It was a breath of fresh air to talk and catch up with her.  We swapped frugal ideas and tips and tricks for the blog.  It was nice to have someone like-minded to bounce ideas off of.

She also shed new light on living frugally.  She talked about sustainability or the way we, as humans, need to use resources in such a way that we do not deplete them in order to maintain our well-being in the long run.  Going green or using green technologies is one of many ways to do this.  Another way is to do as we do – live frugally.  Use less, waste less, and recycle more.  We both loved the concept of consignment sales and second hand items for baby goods.  She might have even talked me into using cloth diapers rather than fill our dumps with everlasting diapers.

Above all else, she reminded us that having a good time can be as simple as having a visitor to share a meal with or someone to go with you and the kids on a play date.  Thanks for dropping by Alessandra, you are welcome anytime!

Frugal Tip of the Day: Get to know people that have similar beliefs as you.  It is much easier to live frugally when you have friends around that do it too.

Happy New Year! 2011 here we come.

Friday, December 31st, 2010

As the last hours of 2010 pass into history, I am lucky to have a few minutes to reflect back on this year while the children are asleep.  Our boat was rocked by big changes this year: going from a two-income household down to one, transitioning from a career woman to a stay at home mom, starting a blog, raising a toddler, being pregnant, and having a new baby.

Adopting a frugal lifestyle has been the key to our success, not only our financial success, but our family bonding as well.  Living a simpler life has been an adventure.  How can we do more with less?  As my hubby would say, “How can we increase our happiness and decrease our costs?”

Looking back on my blog posts we’ve had some hits and misses.  Here’s what we’ve learned this year and what we will carry into the next year.

Coupons – There are people that swear by coupons and then there are people like me who are ambivalent.  I found that using a coupon here and there was easy, but creating a system to maximize the savings (ie. matching coupons to store sale items, stockpiling sale items, menu planning around coupons) was harder and time consuming.  At times, we did save enough money for me to see the potential and I am willing to give coupons another go next year.

Making homemade supplies – Making our own supplies was definitely a win-win.  We had fun testing different methods and hit upon some excellent money saving ideas.  My all time favorite is still the powder laundry detergent.  Next year, we will keep up the research and test more recipes.

Cloth diapers – Big bomb here.  I was so intimidated by cloth diapering that I never gave this a fair shot.  I did try a few on Oliver, but cleaning them was a mess!  However, after spending over $100 already on diapers for Evelyn after 7 weeks, I’m willing to revisit this in the New Year.

Gardening – Gardening is one of my hobbies and I love doing it.  I hope to expand on my little garden next year now that I am not pregnant and cumbersome.  My goals are to grow more items that we like to eat and get the kids more involved with the process.  We also want to install drip irrigation and soaker hoses.  Definitely tune in next year to see how this goes.

Consignment sales – This is a huge, huge, huge money saver for us now that we have kids.  I cannot express how much we save buying second hand clothes, toys, books, furniture, baby gear, etc…  In fact, the next big sale is coming up in January and we are making our 6-month list of things we will need to get us through to the summer and beyond.

Inexpensive family outings – We really bonded as a little family while we searched for ways to have frugal fun.  It made us evaluate what was important to us and to identify the things we really loved.  Turns out we really love to be outdoors!  We had fun camping, visiting a pumpkin patch, attending the state fair, and many visits to the local parks.  I also scoped out some places with Oliver, like the public pool, which we want to take Daddy and Evelyn to next year.

Baby stuff – Being pregnant for most of the year, I’ve had baby on the brain for the life of this blog.  Having been through this once before we can see the opportunities where we can shave off expenses.  Babies are expensive and every penny counts.  I hope that our experience can help other families to save money too.

Toddler stuff – One of the biggest challenges I have faced as a stay at home mom is finding ways to entertain, yet educate my son at the same time.  He needs to exercise, to have social interaction, and to be challenged to develop his mind.  Finding ways to do this frugally takes a lot of work, creativity, and time.  I hope to be better at this in the New Year, so that Evelyn can benefit from our trials and errors.

Frugal food – How to cut-down on the grocery bills, yet have healthy home cooked meals.  During my pregnancy we let this one slip a bit.  I was either too tired to cook, too nauseas to eat, or didn’t have enough time because I was slowing down dramatically towards the end.  Next year I hope to have regular weekly posts about ways to save in the kitchen from shopping, to planning, to eating, and to storing.  

All in all, I think we have done pretty good this year.  We look forward to settling in with our little family and enjoying what life brings our way.  Each day brings an opportunity to have an adventure, try something new, and to have fun.  Remember that sometimes the best things in life are actually free (hugs and kisses from your family).  We hope you have had a good year too and wish you the best for 2011! 

Happy New Year!

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