Saving

With twins on the way, we really have no option but to find opportunities for saving. It’s been awhile since we’ve done some serious couponing, but now that we are back in our own home and have the space to build up a new stockpile, it might be time. Here’s a few tips I have for basic money-saving matters.

1. Always check to see if there’s a coupon. I recently discovered a coupon site that has a ton of places you can find and print a coupon for. Check out AnnCoupons.com before your next oil change, dinner and a movie, shopping trip or online shopping spree. Don’t be kicking yourself later when you find a coupon after you bought something (guilty lately). Thanks to online outlets like AnnCoupons, you don’t need to subscribe to a paper or spend hours clipping coupons (that you’ll likely never redeem – also guilty).

2. Borrow it. I’m not talking about money. Nope, got myself in too much of that trouble in my earlier life! What I mean is borrow things that you will only need for a short time. Like maternity clothes. There’s a traveling box that I’ve been carrying with me and a few co-workers have added to it throughout the years. It’s come in handy for quite a few pregnancies and you might as well borrow something you’ll only need for a little bit.

3. Automatically move the money from checking to savings. I have a set amount that goes from “spend” to “growth” each week. It’s like a regular bill directly out of checking and into saving. That money will then be there for emergencies. You could even start small with one of those 52-week saving plans (start at $1 a week working up to $52 and see how much you have saved at the end of the year).

4. Ask around. Don’t always go for the biggest and best. We learned this when getting our dishwasher recently. Had one in mind (a low budget one) but then talked to the specialist at the store. He first showed us the high end models and explained what they did, but told us his best seller wasn’t the low budget or the high one. For $50 more, we got high end features that were more necessary for our size family but avoided sparkles we didn’t need. Seriously talk these things out.

5. DIY. If you have time, go this route. I’ve been doing more research on essential oils and seeing things I spend too much money on that I could make at home for the fraction of the price. Want tacos? Thaw some chicken versus hitting up the drive through. Simple changes can lead to big change in your pocket.

Ok, these are basic, but you get the idea. Now share – what’s your  best saving tip?

 

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may include affiliate links or reviews in which I was asked to review an item or service in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

A Dozen Cousins

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may include affiliate links or reviews in which I was asked to review an item or service in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.
A Dozen Cousins

Source: Sterling Books

 

Up until recently, Arianna was one girl in the “next generation” of cousins. She’s still the only girl on my dad’s side of the family (with three other boys), but I am not convinced that bothers her…especially after reading A Dozen Cousins as a recent bedtime story.

From Sterling Children’s Books:

What’s life like for one little girl with TWELVE male cousins? Not easy! When Anna’s mischievous family comes for a visit, there’s never a dull moment. They put a lizard in her hat, read her secret diary, and even use her skirt as a teepee. But when push comes to shove, would Anna have it any other way? Loaded with infectious humor and detailed illustrations, A DozenCousins (Sterling Children’s Books, February 2015) will have families large and small smiling along with its ever happy heroine and her big, boisterous boy family.

A Dozen Cousins, written by Lori Haskins Houran and illustrated by Sam Usher, is a delightful story about Anna, one girl with twelve male cousins. The boys (love how diverse they are!) come for a visit and are up to typical boy fun. Mischievous ‘lil ones, they are!

 

My kids loved the hilarious illustrations in this quick read and laughed along with me as we identified with things our girl “among the boys” has been through. It was a great bedtime story and one I’ve been asked to read again, just in the few days we’ve had it.

Even better, we found out that this book was autobiographical about author Lori Haskins Houran who “grew up with tons of cousins”. Illustrator Sam Usher takes Lori’s story and pairs it up with adorable drawings up Anna and her cousins.

This book will be available through Sterling Children’s Books in February 2015 for a suggested retail price of $14.95; however, you can win your own copy to share with your ‘lil ones right here. Good luck!

A Dozen Cousins

Unplugged

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may include affiliate links or reviews in which I was asked to review an item or service in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

 

unplugged

Source: Sterling Books

 

I am staring at my phone, praying for adult interaction. I want it to buzz or ding or light up with a friend’s face. I’m craving something to do as I stare out the dining room window at the gross winter day. And I am expecting my phone to give me that. I feel alone even though my Facebook friends list is over 400 people and a “whopping” 1400+ follow me on Twitter. I’m ignoring the fact that there are photos that could be scrapbooked, booties that could be crocheted (if only I’d learn), or freezer meals to make. I just want someone to say they like me or something I’ve posted.

Maybe I am suffering from what author Orianna Fielding describes as ‘digital overload’ in her book, unplugged: how to live mindfully in a digital world. I was sent this book because of this blog, but quite a few people in my life would probably say there was some divine intervention that placed it in my hands. Maybe so. But I have excuses for why I crave my technologies — I moved to a town where I know a handful of people (thanks to the internet, by the way) and am “too far” from some of my closest friends and family to see them in person like we used to; several of my college and post college friends live in other states – we have to stay connected; and I have family all over the country. How can I not want to be connected? Alas, I read the book and found some helpful information in it.

Orianna gives tips like:

•                    DO NOT sleep with your smartphone.

•                    Meal times, whether at home or in a restaurant, are a unique opportunity to connect with family, friends, and loved ones – NOT our smartphones. Keep them off the table.

•                    Create a “sanctuary space” – a digital free space at home where you can reconnect with yourself.

•                    Use every opportunity to get up from your desk and walk away from your computer/smartphone.

•                    Talk to your co-workers in person or on the phone rather than always sending them an email.

•                    Stop and look around once in a while!  You can’t experience life through a 2” backlit screen.

•                    Physical contact is important. Engage your five senses and touch things other than a digital device.

•                    Experience the moment and capture it in your mind, tech-free, instead of always reaching for your smartphone to take a picture.

 

I don’t disagree with her – these tips definitely have a place in our “being ‘on’ 24/7″ world, and that we need to “manage digital overload and find a more mindful way of living”. As I read the book, I quickly realized I was guilty of 4 of the 12 signs of digital overload (plus several others I don’t want to admit I am) and need to make a point to have more in person interaction. Seriously, I’d rather see people than just interact online, but I lately I’ve felt not many people want to meet up and grab a cup of coffee or just be together (several “parties” I’ve hosted recently where 2 people show up make me think this!). At the same time, I do cherish my online community, so it’s a give and take.

unplugged has sections on the three areas of our lives that technology has impacted us (live, work, and play) as well as ways to get over the overload (pause/disconnect, reconnect, rewind, reset). There are very helpful tips throughout the book (in addition to those above), even ways to get around feeling like you have to be connected for work (guilty), actually go to lunch, and poignant thoughts (sitting is the new smoking – you can tell that to my sciatic nerve). You’ll find a digital detox plan (I won’t be doing this yet, but am glad I’ll have it on hand) and even retreats for those most deeply in need of unplugging.

Let’s all start with something simple, though. An hour a day, put your phone on silent. Leave it behind and see what happens. (Last time I did this, my husband was headed to to the ER with our kids in tow, oops…) And maybe together we can prepare for 24 hours of unplugging (March 6-7, more details on nationaldayofunplugging.com). What do you think?

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Unplugged will be available from Sterling Publishing in February for a SRP of $14.95, or you can enter the giveaway below to get a copy now! (Ends 2/1 at 11:59 PM.)

unplugged

I Made You Big

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While on a drive, the kids asked for a snack. It was probably the 78th time they had that day, and I got frustrated. The snacks they want lately are sugar filled junk, and real food doesn’t seem to please them.

Arianna’s response to my frustration? “We promise we won’t get as big as you did, Mommy.” Cue the tears, right? Oh no. It gets worse.

I tell them I love them and want them to be happy. To be able to run and play and breathe without it being a struggle. I want them to be healthy and yes, smaller than I was as I grew. That I didn’t want them to work like I had to in order to get to where I was [pre-twin belly].

Evan pulled his hood over his face and started to cry. “You didn’t make you big, Mommy. I made you big when I was growing in your tummy. It’s my fault you had to work hard to be small.”

I start bawling, wishing Greg was with us. Between tears, I try to tell him it’s not his fault. Arianna tries. Nothing makes him happy. He believes he made me big and I can’t stop the tears.

Finally, we came to an agreement that it wasn’t being pregnant with my 9 pound bundle of love that led me to weigh right at 300 pounds but it was years of my life that made me the mama I was when I had him. Arianna assured him that I was the same mama now as I was then and as I was before having him, both promising me they understood and it wasn’t his fault.

Having these talks with my kids is hard. Evan doesn’t remember his mama being big, and Arianna vaguely does. For the most part, I hid from cameras because I couldn’t stand my own picture [how I found the above one for this post is beyond me].

Then one day, somehing clicked and Evan and Ari made me smaller. The very thought of being around them for life was enough to decide to get up and take care of me for them. To run. To eat better. To be there for my kids.

So, Evan? If you think you made me anything, know that you made me smaller, healthier, and happier. Remember that, Bubby. And remember that I love you no matter what size you are or I am.

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And PS to the twins? I do miss my smaller body, running, and doing yoga…BUT I wouldn’t trade those things for the amazingness that has been the last 28 weeks/4 days of growing you, either. I’m gonna miss this belly that’s keeping you all close to me when you decide to make your mark on this world.

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Three Hearts

“Mama, there are three hearts inside you right now. That is so cool.”

I’ve been told by my daughter that watching her baby siblings grow in my belly is the coolest thing. But to hear her speak truths like the number of hearts that are beating? Melts my heart.
Yes, we are aware of the blessings growing, but to hear the kids be excited/protective/caring about the babies takes it to a whole different level. Gentle reminders like this are what make the aches and pains of growing two ‘lil Burghers at a time a whole lot easier.

And this one, Evan’s sweet creation:

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At 28 weeks…the reality that they will soon be big siblings has set in. Is it fair to say I think they are more ready than we are?

A Very Rough Day

If you don’t follow me personally on Facebook or Twitter, you may not know that a stomach bug hit the kids pretty hard this week, primarily Thursday when both Arianna and Evan started a synchronized act of each throwing up at precisely the moment I’d fall back asleep from cleaning the last round.

It was truly a test of my motherhood skills, and while I definitely passed, I caught it too. This made for a scary day Friday and as I started to update my Facebook friends decided I might as well blog it to remember it as it does have some pregnancy impact, too.

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Yesterday will probably go down in Willis North history as one of the days that made our ship stronger.

Both kids were up most of the night Thursday to Friday sick with the stomach bug. At some point after midnight, it was clear I had joined them, but I wouldn’t admit defeat. The second Greg Willis got home from work, I let myself join the troops and could barely move from pain and weakness. Around 4:30, he decided there was no way I could do this alone overnight again plus he came down with it at that point too so he called off work. I then called my doctor…because I was having light Braxton Hicks contractions about every 10 minutes.

The answer? Dehydration, head to the ER. So my mom came to my rescue and took me to the ER so I didn’t have a train of three more sickies with me and could focus on my healing and the babies’ safety.

After introducing myself to my ER nurse with what contents of my guts remained, he hooked me up for an IV, took bloodwork, and started fluids and zofran. (Although my ob advised against an rx for it at week 9, I was cleared due to the fact I only drank 5 ounces of liquid from 5 PM Thursday to 6 PM Friday and was still nauseated and throwing up about every 20 minutes). Immediately, I started to feel some relief.

Next, it was up to OB (I actually went in the birthing center which brought some tears to my eyes…I am NOT ready to meet these babies yet) and got hooked up to monitors. I watched my mom have the same expressions I was feeling the second they found each heartbeat, both strong. We sat and quietly talked for the length of the non stress test and then got the news that the ob doctor at ACMH was pleased with the results and I could go back downstairs. Whatever was taking over my body was not hurting the babies! Both had good heartbeats in the 150s and the fluids and zofran stopped my contractions.

Back in the ER, we waited for bloodwork results and then I started more fluid. The final test was a urine sample, which came back that I have some type of infection on top of this bug. No flu, just something that should pass with my prescriptions and rest.

As we pulled up to the house, I saw the kids downstairs and asked Mom to come see them. Evan was eating and drinking, but Arianna was scared to. She took some of the ice chips I had at the hospital and perked up enough to read “We Are In a Book” to Grammie. Greg said both were “accident free” the whole time we were gone.

After my mom left, I went to take my medicine and fell asleep, so I am not sure how the first half of the night went (Greg stayed up a whole because he had slept all day), but from about 2 until 645, we were free to sleep straight through the night. Evan is getting better, and Arianna should be close on his heels.

I thank you for the thoughts and prayers we received throughout this trial, and hope and pray your families stay safe from it!

Now it’s back to sleep for me, Grammie ordered a round of sleeping in for all of us, so I hope little miss “the sky’s awake so I’m awake” listens…

Cloth Diapering: Giving it a Try

With two babies on the way, Greg and I thought long and hard about how their entrance into our world was going to change things. One of those things will be how we diaper our babies. If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years, you might recall this post where I said:

For us, cloth diapering is just not the way to go, but it doesn’t mean that we are anti-cloth. Frankly, I wanted to give it a shot, but really, the choice needs to be up to the primary caregiver. Mr. Burgher would be that person.

I was right at the time but now things have changed. We got a diaper sprayer to help with some of Arianna’s accidents (she’s lactose intolerant and potty training was a not so fun mess). We got a few swim diapers and overnight diapers to test out with Evan. But this time? Baby A and Baby B will be all-in on the fluffy fun of cloth. Fun. Yup, I said it. I think cloth is beautiful. My mom cloth diapered me for awhile, but they just were not made the same as they are today. And Greg? This time he is all on board. Even if it means more laundry.

Because I’ll be for real – the cost to diaper two babies in disposable diapers is triple the cost to cloth diaper, even when buying at full price. 

It’s worth the extra laundry. 

To help us solidify our decision, I talked to Helena at Thanks Mama (a family owned cloth diapering and natural parenting store based in Boston, MA with an online presence). She listened to my questions, which may be a “Level 2″ compared to a complete cloth newbie (because I did some research when we had Evan + have friends and cousins who have gone the cloth route), but were still pretty basic. My questions are her answers made us decide this is for us and thus began the quest to fill our cloth stash. Squee!

Thanks Mama

Source: Thanks Mama

Wondering what I asked? (Helena’s answers are in italics.)

1. Can you start cloth diapering your newborn right away, or can the meconium ruin precious fluff? You can start cloth diapering right away although stains may be left on the fabric. It never bothered me though.

^ That was our biggest worry. What are we doing about it? For now, we’ll use regular diapers in the hospital and then switch when we get home or the meconium slows up. I’m a bit of an OCD freak, so having a stained diaper until the babies are potty trained will drive me nuts.

2. The AIO diapers look like a huge blesssing, but the liners seem so inexpensive and a great way to get rid of stool. Should we be pairing AIO’s with liners, or are they good with the layers that come with?  Yes many parents use [disposable liners], they do make poop disposal easier. For newborn you would not need anything until you introduce solid food, the stool is very watery and has very little odor (especially if you breast feed) the diaper can go directly into diaper pail to be washed. You will know when it is time to either introduce disposable liners or shake the poop into the toilet or invest into diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet pipes and makes rinsing the diapers super easy.

^ Our plan is to start using AIO (all-in-one) diapers with our babies and adding in the disposable liner when they are eating solids, but we might pick up some samplers to make the “final choice” – stay tuned for some future posts where I compare an AIO and a pocket – to be explained in that post!)

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Follow along with us as we start our cloth diapering journey. Helena and Thanks Mama will be helping us out with future questions, and she’s even graciously provided me with a giveaway for a $25 code to Thanks Mama in case you are interested in trying out cloth (or adding to your stash or just need something special for mom!). This giveaway ends on 1/24. Good luck!

$25 to Thanks Mama

Disclosure: I was compensated with product and giveaway value in exchange for this post. All opinions, however, are 100% my own. 

Stop Putting Off

I’m awake and mostly ready for work because Greg called me when his shift ended to ask what he could bring me for breakfast. The man gets my pregnant self.

But it got me thinking (as down time when you can’t fall back to sleep) does. Why didn’t I just get up and shower so we could spend a few moments together before I rushed out the door? Bank a few moments in our relationship checking account, if you will. Our early morning talks have become the favorite part of my day. He’s usually chatty and I am sleepy but awake and ready to spend precious moments with him. No more putting it off, put in extra me time before he arrives so we have more we time.

And as my rabbit hole way of thinking does, my mind raced in the shower. What else am I putting off?

That prenatal massage he got me for Christmas and taking a prenatal yoga class. These are two things I promised myself I would do. Today, my goal is to get these scheduled. If I keep putting it off, these babies will be here and I will forever have guilt that I never treated myself to these things I have always wanted to experience.

Scheduling my glucose test. I am 99% sure I don’t have gestational diabetes, but that lab work script has been sitting in my home office for two weeks now and I have two weeks to report to my doctor how it went. Oops.

Picking coming home outfits. If things keep going the way I am going, our last two kiddos will question why all they wore their first month was a white onesie snagged from the hospital.

Reading my book list. Because I seriosuly think my maternity leave is a time to read. Huh.

Getting Arianna and Evan in soccer. They ask all the time and I say someday. Why can’t that be now? I thought I was “raising a happy and healthy family”?

And this is just the tip of my thoughts. I’ve been thinking lots about how this pregnancy, save my hip issue that landed me in the ER screaming, has been (thankfully) uneventful, these kids could arrive sooner than I’d like and these things I want to do before we meet them won’t happen if I keep putting them off. So, today’s my day (post busy workday full of meetings) to do this. To stop putting it off.

What are you saying someday to and are going to stop putting off now?

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Hey feet. I can somehow still see you...

Speck Cases- Amplifying My World

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may include affiliate links or reviews in which I was asked to review an item or service in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.

SpeckCaseinBox

It took me a few looks at Samsung Galaxy S5 cases to find one that worked for me. I wanted something that didn’t make my phone too bulky but provided protection. That’s when Speck happened to email me about their holiday offerings and I decided to give one of the new Speck cases a try.

What really caught my eye was the Sound Amplification case with military-grade protection in raspberry/flamingo for the Samsung Galaxy S5. My thinking was that this case was going to solve a problem I had with a cheap-o case I picked up in the interim (I couldn’t use speaker or my car’s integrated sound system to talk on the go). Even better? With military-grade protection, I wasn’t going to worry about corraling all the kids with phone in hand on trips out to the garage or in the mall.

So, how did my choice hold up?

The Sound. When the product arrived, I was a little skeptical. There’s this really cool looking integration, the Speck exclusive Horn Design, where “sound is 2x louder and clearer” because it “equalizes the sound of your Samsung S5 for fuller, richer sound” by redirecting the sound from your speaker where it needs to go. My skepticism came because the design looked awesome, but I am not an engineer, so it didn’t look to me like this would really do the job. See?

SpeckCase

I showed it to my brother who is an engineer and he got it, so I trusted. The only problem I’ve had with this was one call on the day of Evan’s birthday party. I tried to call a local pizza shop on speaker with my car off and all doors/windows shut. I ended up hanging up on them because the employee said, “There’s something wrong with your phone, I can’t hear you at all”, but let me be honest and say I think the issue was on his end – there was a lot  of background noise and the shop I’d called before and after had no problems hearing me. But, I want to throw that out there that out of about 100 calls since, I did have “one issue”. Can’t win them all, right?

The protection. Thankfully, I haven’t tested the military-grade protection (I refused to throw my phone and have been very careful with it), but based on the thickness of it, I am sure it would protect if I did have an incident. That’s the thing, though. It’s solid and a bit heavier than I’d like in a case. (My last Speck case was super-light.)

Other thoughts. Also, Speck has cases with “grippy lines” (my words) on them that make it hard to lose my phone in the car. This one is smooth on the back, save for some scratches I’ve got on it now, so it doesn’t really “stick” to anything and slides everywhere. This part I’m not thrilled with, but am willing to work with for the protection. I love the color I chose, but there are three other color options in this offering, too.

If you are like me and searching for Samsung Galaxy S5 cases, consider this one. It might be the right fit for you, or Speck just might have other cases that fit your needs better. This particular case retails for $44.95 and was provided to me for the purposes of this review.

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We’re Speck

Speck is an award-winning leader of mighty slim protective cases for the world’s top smartphones, tablets, and laptops. From iPad cases and iPhone cases to Samsung Galaxy cases and everything in between, we design cases that are slim, good looking and most importantly, the most effective protection possible.

Our roots are in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the intersection of design and technology, inspiring forward-thinking innovation to craft masterfully engineered and patented designs. Our design philosophy delivers the best looking and most effective slim protection because we believe protection doesn’t need to be ugly, nor bulky. It’s all in the details; we create our cases to enable you to go more places and enjoy more from your mobile devices. Get to know us at speckproducts.com or follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

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Romans 8:32

Romans 8:32 reads:

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

This verse has been on my mind for seven days now. The pastor at a church we’ve been trying out used it as part of his sermon on how the church gave 2014 as they looked toward what 2015 would bring. It really struck a chord with me because I feel like giving has been a big part of my life, but I struggle with the second half – having faith that God will provide the things we need in return.

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I paced back and forth as I watched my uncle, aunt, cousin, brother, dad, best friend, and husband load our whole life from my parents’ garage into a 26 foot truck. There was nothing I really could do but watch, but it bothered me. It bothered me that four (or six) people really need all that crap and that I’d held it on for so long. (When it was just me and Arianna, it took a 24′ truck + a Silverado + a Durango all packed to the gills to get us moved from South Carolina to Pennsylvania.) It (the stuff) just seems so unnecessary, yet I look all around our home and see why we needed 95% of the stuff that was on that truck. Yet I worried.

I worried because I didn’t want the roads to get icy and the truck be in an accident, causing people I loved to be hurt. I worried because I wasn’t sure that we’d ever get it all unpacked in a day (not only did we, but we were able to set up a good deal of the furniture that day and have the boxes put away six days later). I worried because it was my stuff (in theory) and I wasn’t doing any lifting. I worried that we had made the right decision with this house, 35 minutes from my work and requiring Greg to go back to work in order to afford it plus two new mouths to feed. I worried because I worry.

But you know what? God provided. He gave us a house with a bedroom for every single one of our kids + a space for relaxing + a space to watch the kids in the yard where I don’t get bit by bugs + a garage to keep the snow off our cars + a home office for me. He gave us a house that needed no painting, no flooring, no major fixes (save the disposal and dishwasher which have had me in a tizzy the past two weeks). He gave us a house that will have years of love and laughter flowing through it. He gave us a house in His time according to his plan, even after ours had sold. I didn’t need to worry.

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It’s hard to see that when we give it helps pave the way for our futures – especially when giving stretches the limits. It’s hard to give when we live in a selfish “me me me” world. It’s hard to give when you think that the people around you aren’t really hurting. It’s hard to give when all you can give is a kind word and a hug but you know someone needs far more than that.

This year, as I am trying to see all of God’s blessings and become overwhelmed by them, I’m going to also try to give and trust more. Worry less. Have faith. Give not because I want to be blessed but because it’s right. And I’m hoping to surround myself with more people like that to inspire me and to push me forward, to help me be the me I am supposed to be.

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