The Frugal Foursome Rant: An Update

Little and Big, with O. and S. Free fun for all!
Little and Big, with O. and S. Free fun for all!

Shhh. This weeks rant is a day late, and , well, a dollar short…

Last year, I shared a post that left me very vulnerable and open, in a good way. Authenticity at it’s finest, brought to you as many times a week as I can type. What, you want I should lie? Like sleep doesn’t already keep me awake at night…and you, my therapists, you should be able to take it.

Well, it’s time I let you know how the ‘path less purchased’ is going:

Live Lean:

  • Slash the budget and stop the hemorrhage.  As much as I’d like to say we have fully coagulated, even formed a scab, we are still bleeding. Maybe we need that nice, Dr. House to help us. Or Susie Orman. We rarely go out, and when we do, it’s a pizza or the diner—no extravagance here. Despite Ich macht a labent (I’m making a living), the cost of our life is still out doing my income. This keeps my metabolism revving, and leaves me a bit ferklempt (choked with emotions). Our biggest expenses still come from Doctors…because of me, I’m a pain in the neck, chronically and literally, and the best progressive education around, at the Miquon School, for the kinder (the kids). Two things we cannot stop attending to.
  • Cut the cord. Goodbye Cable! Done! And we couldn’t be happier. Savings here, ~$200 per month! We have wi-fi, and we stream, like all the cool kids!
  • Eat home, brown bag lunches, snacks and beverages, avoid quaint coffee culture. This has a steep learning curve. Stopping for ice cream, a bottle of water, c-o-f-f-e-e, snacks, all very difficult. We rarely eat out. We make rice and beans. Beans and rice, rice, with beans, and sometimes beans and rice. Thankfully, we are veggies and love this! No sacrifice! Little and Big, they get hungry, and thirsty, even after our well thought out bag of noshes (snacks and drinks) has been consumed. Oy! When we have nothing for me to bring for lunch, I wait until dinner. I allow myself one cup of coffee out per week. My coffee klatch, dear friends back from our barista brewing ‘Buckaroo days…are well worth every penny.
  • Sell the house—downsize, move, rent. Living life the Manor way. It’s an adjustment for us all. We have no idea whose basement has what of our stuff or how long we will be here. But, we carved a savings of about ~$1200 per month. 
  • Make memories, give experiences, learn to live well with less.  Major improvement! My wonderful machetanum (in-laws) gave us a membership to the Morris Arboretum. It’s like our backyard, without mowing or pruning. We have been there zillions of times and keep finding new things to fall in love with and explore. We are making wonderful memories and enjoying outdoor play together!
Coffee Klatch <3
Coffee Klatch ❤

Lean On:

  • Leave senseless money squabbles behind. Better. ❤ We find ourselves on the same page so much more often than ever before. My Mrs., she has come a long way!
  • Share the burden of stresses that I hold so deep and internal. The Mrs. and me, we kibbitz (talk) more about a lot of things. A stolen moment here, a quick sentence or two there—we’ve even texted each other while on the sofa. The best thing for me, when I hear her laughter. Priceless…
  • Recognize that ‘thrift maven’ may come in stages for those of us that are more ‘spendy’ and less frugal. And with this one, we bicker less. Win, win! Baby steps lead to long strides.
Yarn bombing At the Arboretum!
Yarn bombing At the Arboretum!

Lean In:

  • Control what I can control. I’m trying.
  • Always lead by example. Words I try hard to live by.
  • Keep my ‘cup half full attitude. A veritable Mary Poppins, I am.
  • Work hard and make the time to play hard. We all need more play.
  • Set goals together for a purpose, because some may just find the simple act of saving for savings sake boring. Oh savings! I should only live long enough to be bored by you!

Financial stability, I am searching for you around every corner. I am working hard to have you in our lives again. We will be fine. Things will improve. Time and karma.

 

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Pass the Sauce #AgentSpitback #Linky Party
Pass the Sauce #AgentSpitback #Linky Party

Rant, shmant. As long as I can vent…

QUIET: Therapy In Session
QUIET: Therapy In Session

A new weekly feature for you (really, for me. Remember, you are my therapists).

Many months ago something happened that gives me such shpilkes, even today. The Mrs., she takes Big to the doctor for her yearly check in. Little tags along, as she usually does. This is usually not too traumatic of an event. We love our doc and the visit is always followed up with ice cream for all! What’s not to love?

First, let me tell you that Big, she is fine. Our regular pediatrician is out on some emergency, so they ask if it’s okay that Big sees a male doc for this visit. This I think is nice thing. We say of course, no problem. We have no issue here.

Mr. Doc comes in, seems pleasant, engaging—all is good. A little doctoring goes on, looking in the ears, listening to the heart, etc. then he says to Big, “Do all of your friends hate you?” Big, (all of seven years old) looks perplexed and worried. The Mrs., she is mortified.

Mr. Doc continues to spew, “Don’t they hate you because you are so beautiful? If they don’t now, they will soon.” This, he says to the most sensitive little madelah on the planet. On a regular day, she is like a sponge soaking in the pain of the world. Really? We needed this new burden added to this thoughtful kinder like we needed a loch in kop?

The Mrs., she speaks up. She says, NO! THAT IS NOT A PROBLEM HERE. WE DON’T WORRY ABOUT THIS! NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT! With eyes bulging and body language that I’m certain, has this medical macher in need of new boxers.

The rest of the visit is uneventful, thankfully. The Mrs., she has to explain to Big and Little, that the doc, he made a bad mistake. No one will hate her for being beautiful. To be a truly beautiful person means you are filled with kindness, compassion and love for yourself and others. Beauty comes from the inside out.

We have heard about Big’s allure from many, but never put forth in a way so crass, so blissfully ignorant and hopelessly tactless. Of all places, we would have never expected something like this to occur at our children’s medical establishment.

So Mr. Doc and those that surround you and your small thinking, you need to know that both of my girls are gorgeous in my eyes. Both of my girls are so much more than a pretty face. Do not, dear Doctor, ever hold them to such low standing, that you expect them to ride free on their stunning aesthetic qualities. They both will carry with them an appeal that comes from who they are on this planet and how they relate to their fellow human beings. They will utilize their brains in virtuous ways because they are cultivating a love of learning. They will grow up to become whatever it is they want to become, because they will both work hard and know they can. They both will lead and dictate their paths.

Hate is a mighty strong word. Please watch where you use such a term in today’s society; it resonates so freely off the tongues of way too many. Where lives get cut short over senseless violence, racism and bigotry. There are probably countless despicable persons on the planet, yet few deserve such a term as ‘hated’ from another individual, as my Big.

Mr. Doc, you have ticked me off in ways that you will never know or comprehend. And I do not hate you. I do fear and worry that there are more out there that think like you—and, I am one pissed Jewish Mamma.

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Hello, It’s me…Lisa

Little and Big Xmas 2015

So you may wonder why I’m here blogging, sharing my spiel? Truth is, I started blogging because it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy. And that makes you, dear readers, my therapists. By the powers vested in me, please follow, share and leave your comments, good and bad. Let’s kibitz?

I don’t want to kvetch (a lot), but dreck happens, often. And that’s okay. I am here on the planet to learn and grow daily. So what if we share a little growing pains?
Armed with my keypad, camera and some words, hopefully strung together fairly well, I can fill you in on what goes on, while also working on this ‘life in progress’ journey we all seem to be taking. Wouldn’t it be nice, if maybe we could all laugh, cry, see some commonalities, embrace some differences and inspire each other to keep going?
My muses? None other than my crazy, zany, beautiful (inside and out) and lovable family. That includes me, the Mrs.,Family 1-1-2016 BHI Little and Big. Yes, we are two mommas with two little girls. Trials, tribulations, parenting, working, aging and surviving, while food shopping, doing laundry, making meals, cleaning up and trying to save the planet.
Sometimes I’ll offer up little nuggets to nosh on, and sometimes a bit more of a tirade about whatever may have my kishkas in an uproar. I figure, this blog will see me, us, through the ups and downs of the hand(s) we’ve been dealt. Chronic pain, major life changes, moves, losses, gains, wins, ballet recitals, tooth fairies, friends, foes, fears, tsuris, yadda, yadda…
I blog because…
  • my girls may someday look back and want to see who ‘Mommy’ was as a person, through their adult eyes
  • I want to remember every (okay, most) beautiful moment of their childhood that is priceless and filled with such naches
  • every moment isn’t pretty–sometimes it’s messy and fehklempt, and I want those memories too
  • other parents out in the ether must know what to do when…? and share with me
  • for some crazy reason, I am channeling great Aunt Frieda with all of this Yiddish
  • I have funny thoughts, and I write them down, in the hopes that you (my therapists) may smile or chuckle over them tooblogger mommy
  • my family, my little mishpocheh and my extended and chosen peeps, need to know how very much I love them and feel loved by them
  • life with two kids, work, school and all the other mishegas, doesn’t always allow for adequate ‘tawk-time’ with the Mrs., or anyone else for that matter
  • ahhh, the Mrs., whenever I see her, my heart still skips a beat
  • every night, Little cries out during bedtime that she is hungry
  • Canada looks very good in the event of a Trump inauguration, and we will need to know where to send Little and Big to school
  • have I got stories to tell. Oy vey!

So, you’ll join me? What, you have something better to do? Nu?

BTW, I’m the one with the gray hair in the pic.

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Sisterhood / Shvesters

Sis 1

As two moms with two girls, sisterhood is an important topic in our household. I watch Little and Big as they play, fight, hug, quarrel, dance, bicker, collaborate, mimic, accidentally draw blood, purposefully love, and magical things happen inside my heart. Things I never thought I could possibly know or understand until mommyhood happened. I think about my relationship with my sister, where I am Little and she is Big, and my heart fills with delight, love and naches from childhood through to present day.

 

The two things I can proudly give my mom credit for, and were drilled into my head as a wee one: (1) Shvesters should always love and protect each other, (2) Education is very, very important.

 

My sister is almost four years older than me and we were pretty, pretty, pretty (say as Larry David would) opposite as kids go. I now fondly recall episodes of our lives that were endearing, loving, and truthfully, downright frightening. Like the time where I was forced to sing Michelle ma belle (yes, from the Beatles) to a visitor of our neighbors, so that he would show us his wooden leg. I did, and he did. My Big was pleased and I didn’t get beat up. Win-win.

 

Another time, didn’t work out so well. I don’t even remember the request, but the outcome left fresh bicycle treads over my stomach. Yep, she rode her two-wheeler right over top of me! Crushed my kishkas for no reason that comes to memory.

Sis 3

I learned early that being a tattletale would not work out well for me. The damages that would ensue from Big were not worth the punishment she would get from my role as informant.

 

When she was old enough to be in charge, rather than the secret sheriff that had ruleSis 2, we would pleasantly smile as my parents left the house for a Saturday night on the town. As I heard the door keys lock, I would run like the wind to my bedroom and lock the door. Safety.

 

And there were times where her kindness shone so bright. Like when she put her arm around me at the funeral of my Nanny during high school, and assured me we would be okay. I still remember that touch, as if it were yesterday. Her assurance so genuine, I had to believe.

 

Being 4 years apart was tough. We had different friends, different ideas of fun, and a totally different way of being on the planet. She was rebellious, athletic, attractive, funny and smart. Big ‘leaned in’ well before Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller. I was quiet (I’m fairly certain I did not speak until my thirties), absorbing, zaftig, nerdy (before nerdy was cool), smart and artistic. In my teens I had an uncanny resemblance to a young River Phoenix. Not necessarily a good thing for a young girl, but you get what you get and make do.

Sis 5

I can vividly recall a time in our kitchen, where Big caused some sort of major upset to our mother and received an abrupt, hard, right-handed slap in the face. With the chutzpah Big carried so well, she slapped our mom right back, turned, and left the room. Stunning. It was the kind of scene that happened on Dynasty between rival matriarchs, Linda Evans and Joan Collins. That made for an interesting evening when Daddy came home. I stayed the keen observer in the family, silent and soaking it all in, being ever the good girl.

 

I always knew my sister was a wonderful person, even as a young, bruised and tattered nudnik of a kid. She had tons of friends, fans and energy. She knew how to have fun, seek support from outside and had fearlessness worthy of applause. She would sneak out at night when the parents were long asleep, and I would let her back in when I heard the slight tap on my bedroom window. All unspoken. I quite envied her brazen qualities. My role was to keeper of the peace. Dangerous in a very different way and worthy of posts yet to come.

 

Suffice to say, our differences growing up left for not much getting along. “Shvesters, Shvesters,” was always cried in the background. I remember when she left for college. I thought my black-and-blue arms were up for some relief and the drama in the house would calm. One day, my parents awarded me with plane tickets to spend the weekend with her at college. Shvesters…surely this couldn’t be true? Why couldn’t they foresee the outcome? Didn’t they know we had nothing in common? Could they see me schvitzing at the thought of this tsuris-ridden adventure? That I may be left at the airport until the plane ride home? Was this some form of punishment? What did I do to deserve such a fate?

 

And it was during that very weekend, when our relationship grew like the heart of the Grinch. I was welcomed. We talked. I was introduced to her friends. Parties. Fun. Shown a good time and treated as an equal, rather than a pesky sidekick related merely by blood. And it was from that day forward that our bond formed and grew.

Sis 4

Big went on to marry the man she met at college. He is a true mensch. They had two wonderful boys who are now magnificent young men. All four of them deepen my life, our lives, in ways that words cannot begin to touch. Despite all the mishegas that happened in our family, here are three words that I may not say very often, but surely ring true in this instance. When it comes to shvesters, “Mom was right.”

 

As I am writing this, my Little and Big waken and walk out, hand in hand. Being closer in age, friendship comes easy. They are playmates by birthright. My heart does the love dance at the sight of them. They politely ask for one TV show, and then run off to play in their room when the show ends. The joy they see in each other is spectacular. Big cares for Little like a wannabe mom. Little provokes, cajoles, cavorts and acts ever the clown. Together they dance the Nutcracker, invent games and tinker. And they do fight. No candy-coating here. But a good 98% of the time, they are shvesters and this is one happy mishpocheh.

 

This post is for my shvester, Aud-o, Steve-o, Ben and Max. And my hope is that my Little and Big can keep as wonderful a love as my sister and I hold dear.

 

I am one lucky sister.
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Learning to Live Lean, Lean on and Lean In as two moms and two girls

Subtitle: Not a diet

Maple Acres 2

This has been a tumultuous year (or two) in our family. Loss. Pain. Change. Fear. Panic. Anxiety. Surgery, job loss, death, sweet soul-mate pet losses, friend loss, financial insecurity, personal insecurity, moving out of our home, living week to week, working two jobs, missing my family, start-up sorrows, sleep deprivation…and now, just for fun, lets add mice (of which my partner has the greatest of phobias) in our new humble abode…okay. Bring it on…this is life and we all have our proverbial hand of cards to play.

It’s been messy. It’s been tearful. Well ‘F’ that—we’ve sobbed enough tears this past year; but not enough that they don’t keep flowing. It’s been– the kind of year where you can truly recognize what family means and who your friends are.

Through all of this, there must be some lesson that can help me to redefine what success and failure actually mean. This requires lowering the volume on the often loud, and thunderous narrative that takes place in my head. You know that voice…I am trying with all of my might, wit and Mom-superpowers to fully grasp that feeling like a failure and failing might actually be two different things.

As a family, we’ve had to change a lot about how we live each day and exist in today’s ‘ca-chinging,’ credit card culture. Frugality does not come easy for all. So very hard to do when you have two adorable, loveable and well deserving girls (insert that failure feeling here). So hard to do when it hasn’t always been the way we’ve done our life. When prior salaries have had different places to insert a comma.

Enter the new world of our frugal-foursome, wear we live lean, lean on, and lean in.

Live Lean:

  • Slash the budget and stop the hemorrhage. This requires tremendous discipline in thought and outcome (and the realization that we are still bleeding)
  • Cut the cord—goodbye Comcast, hello Netflix
  • Control has to win over convenience, which is really just a luxurious money suck—Eat home, brown bag lunches, snacks and beverages, avoid quaint coffee culture
  • Sell the house—downsize, move, rent
  • Kill the guilt that fuels spending and brings on a different kind of guilt—make memories, give experiences, learn to live well with less. Discover the joy, contentment and happiness in ourselves and with each other

Lean On:

  • Seek ways to continually course correct our new ‘lean awakening’, leaving senseless squabbles behind
  • Share the burden of stresses that I hold so deep and internal
  • Recognize that ‘thrift maven’ may come in stages for those of us that are more ‘spendy’ and ergo, less frugal

Lean In:

  • Control what I can control
  • Always lead by example
  • Keep my ‘cup half full attitude,’ even when I question the what exactly is in the cup
  • Work hard and make the time to play hard—it’s just as important
  • Set goals together for a purpose, because some may just find the simple act of saving for savings sake boring

Are we better? Are we fixed? No. Are we always on the same page? No. But we are wiser. And with that wisdom, there have been moments, sweet joyous moments of pure bliss.

There’s no going back. Yes, we would like some more financial stability. Yes, we would like less pain, and most certainly (and quickly!) an absence of vermin. But for now, we are where we are and we are constantly becoming who we will be. We are a beautiful work in progress.

We know together that one cannot buy good parenting or good partnering. Frugality and discretion won’t change our love for one another as we walk the path less purchased. We will definitely stop along the way to welcome the happiness in the small moments as they appear.

More to come on this, I am certain.

Out, damned mice.

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