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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Thank You so much Su, from EthanEvelyn.com! #FabFridayPost
Thank You so much Su, from EthanEvelyn.com! #FabFridayPost
Pass the Sauce #AgentSpitback #Linky Party
Pass the Sauce #AgentSpitback #Linky Party

Frugal Schmugal

from Luka
from Luka

The holidays are headed our way, no bones about it. While I do not care to keep track of how many shopping days are left until Christmas, I do know all too well, how many days left until payday. And that is just an icky, new feeling that I must get used to. We managed through those eight crazy nights of Hanukkah; I suppose the big red-suited man will let us fly by too.

from Neko
from Neko

Please, do not for one moment feel bad about us! We are doing the very best we can right now, and I know we are not alone. Tough times, tough measures surround us all. We are very grateful for what we have, and more importantly, who we have surrounding us with love, joy and support both during the holidays, and year round.

Thankfully, Little and Big don’t really ask for a lot. They never have. We are just in ‘Living Lean’ mode, and with that, will come a special frugality to the season that should not be misconstrued as ‘Grinchism.’ We got through it last year, and I guess that means we should be even better at it by this year? This year, the Mrs. and me have not even argued about a budget. We both know its bubkes.

The boys, with Santa
The boys, with Santa

I love the holidays, as viewed through the eyes of Little and Big. I grew up on latkes and menorahs – a jelly donut was a big deal for my Big and me. Of course, a purple tree, blinking lights, ornaments…it’s a huge WOW!

On Christmas Eve, Toffey will spend the night. We will make egg-free cookies for Santa (sorry big guy, Little is allergic) together – a few for him, a few for us. A ‘nice nosh.’ We will sup together. And we will all wake up early in our jammies, and see the surprises that Santa has left for us after his magnificent voyage across the world.

Here at the Manor, luckily men have been outside working on all the chimneys in our building for the past several weeks. I expounded on all the ‘white lying’ of the season by telling the girls that they are readying them for Santa, his elves and the reindeer. Yes, this haimish’a Yid buys in. I hear the bells ringing on the polar express and love the look on their little joyous faces on Christmas morning.

Here is what I don’t so much love:

  • The lack of sleep – in fact, my sleep bank may very well mirror my…well, you know
  • We have less charitable giving to offer this year
  • We cannot yet get the girls, us, an addition to the family in the form of a new pug. We are so very grief-stricken by the tremendous loss of Atticus and Eli.

Here’s what I do love:

  • My kids get to celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas, so the magic of the white haired man rocks in this house
  • When I asked them what they got last year from Santa, they had no idea – but they did remember the experiences we made together and the joy of the people we shared them with
  • Toffey is making a beautiful tradition with us on Christmas Eve, and he swears up and down, and sideways too, that he never, ever sees or hears Santa come in at night with our haul

So, frugal schmugal. We do the very best we can. We make memories, not bills. We enjoy the time-shared.

Wishing all of you, the very best of the holiday season!

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What a night for a good dream

dream 2
What a night for a good dream
a good night to work out my shit
I’ve been rollin’ in tsuris
I think my subconsciousness can handle it
And even if daytime’s been hard to toll
It’s one of those nights to tuck in and roll
close the lids and let the movie begin
figure it out and try rememberin’
Dream 1
I was havin’ a good dream
dreamt for all four hours of eve
the mishegas was all solved for
Mazel Tov’s were handed out to me
And even if days have had my kishkas in knots
at least at night I don’t have to plotz
I’m less ferklempt and more a yiddisher kop
The dreck is gone, no pain and have a pug pup
(whistling interlude)
And I can be sure that if I dream a bit
this alte kocker can be an alrightnick
My bubela’s won’t be screamin’, “Oy vey!”
we’ll get by yet another day
dream 3
What a night for a good dream
the dreck is one and we’re all okay
our problems are bubkes
we can shmooze and sing and play all day
(whistling interlude)
special thanks to the Lovin’ Spoonfuls and for the ability to somehow
channel my inner Aunt Frieda

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linky 2-5-16
TY linky 2-5-16

Les Misérables

my lego friends dream

We walk among you. We sit next to you. We work with you. We laugh with you. We drive in the lane next to you and make dinner plans to sup with you. We are at the playground, the grocery store, the movie theatre and the school potluck. I’m not talking about zombies or aliens…just people, like me, who live and endure chronic pain, day in and day out.

Chronic pain is an invisible disability and it’s hard for anyone who is not experiencing exactly what you are going through, to fully comprehend the magnitude of pain. There is an incredibly high level of comfort in knowing that my closest circle doesn’t have to go through this mishegas (Yiddish for craziness) each day. And, there is a level of isolation that comes with the territory.

For me, my pain du jour lives as the legendary ‘pain in the neck.’ I’ve had a lot of diagnoses that run the gamut from some form of migraine, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, and occipital neuralgia. As far as I’m concerned, you can call it Fred. Fred hurts a lot. Fred happened from a series of mishaps that caused injury to the exact same spot on my head a few times over.

I’ve had many forms of treatment for Fred. Meds, meds, meds, and more meds—bubkes (Yiddish again), nothing works to stop the pain. There is not a prescriptive drug out there that will kill the pain and allow me to be a productive person on the planet. I’ve had nerve blocks, epidurals, cutting of the nerves (they grew back—little buggers), more nerve blocks, traction, TENS unit, acupuncture, massage therapy (that helps a lot, but tough when you are living lean). In between, hospital infusions, meds, and more meds. Gornischt (it’s like bubkes, only more polite).

I finally landed with an incredibly wonderful bionic solution —an occipital stimulator that resides inside my person. This little technical gizmo (from Boston Scientific) comes with a remote control with four programs created especially for me. It also comes with people who I can call to re-program me. It has gotten me over the worst of it and episodes of horror have gone from 2-3 times a week to about once a month. It has greatly improved my quality of life. I’m grateful, and I still want more.

Chronic pain is exhausting. When I am at my best, I cope–remarkably well for someone who feels like crap a great portion of the time. An outsider would never know. When the pain is at it’s worst, I wear it on my face for all to see. My skin tone shifts to a ghastly greenish-grey. Nausea takes over and no medication can stop the inevitable follow up. That in turn causes greater neck pain and a lovely accompaniment of severe back spasms with a side order of dehydration. Broken further, I lay like a lump, passed out for days in a medicated stupor. Pain is wily and insidious—like water, it will seek new levels

Get a cold, the flu or a bout of sinusitis and you are understandably miserable. People around you can relate to those feelings and they can also visibly see you are in distress. I refuse to be miserable. That would suck for me. Remember, I’m a glass half full kind of person. Kvetching (complaining) all day is not my style.

Are there days I would like to hide under the comforter? Yes. Are there days where I would like my loving partner to remove my head from the neck up and place it on the bedside table? Ab-so-fu#*ing-lutely! She gets it. She sees it. She lives it with me and I love her all the more.

Important remedies:

  • Humor and laughter
  • Creativity and play
  • Sleep and rest
  • Exercise and movement

Important for laypeople to know:

  • This is not all in my head, made-up or exaggerated
  • It is at times, depressing to be in pain all the time–enter humor and laughter here immediately
  • Depression makes the pain worse, go figure
  • So does lack of sleep, and stress—completely unfair!
  • If you should find me in a grumpy state of mind, it’s not you. It’s Fred.

Most important to know, I can be happy, joyful, grateful and fun and still be in a severe amount of pain. It’s how I have to roll. And that’s okay, until I find the next thing that will make it better.

What’s the thing that hurts most of all? When either of my two daughters asks me if I’m going to be sick today, tomorrow, at their birthday party, on vacation or on Christmas. There’s must be a cure for that, somewhere.

Thanks for listening.

Your real-live Lego friend wannabe

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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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