40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge – My Journey – Day 1

I came across the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge in a post a friend had posted on facebook.  I have a tendency to hold on to things I don’t really need.  I moved once with a 16 foot truck of STUFF.

16 foot moving truck for 1 person.

I don’t want to do that again.   I am on my journey to reduce and de-clutter.  With a toddler it makes the chore a little more difficult because I want to keep everything of his.  To help in my venture to de-clutter I have signed up to be a seller at Too Cute To Toss  event on April 5th and 6th to sell as much of my son’s clothes and “stuff” as I can.  I can’t wait to see how I do after 40 days.

The “official” 40 bags in 40 days started on March 5th and ends on Easter Saturday.  So if anyone asks me “what did you give up for lent?” don’t be surprised if you get the answer “stuff” because for me not holding on to something that may have one day had value or a memory attached is a HUGE step for me.  The plus side to all this…  My fiancée will be very happy to se so much stuff going out the door and not coming back in.  🙂

Wish me luck on my journey.    I will try to post different areas along my 40 day journey.

Day 1 – My craft area (might take 2 days) –  It needs desperate help…

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Question of the Day: Should Children be Banned from High End Restaurants?

This post is spawned for an article from NBC Chef Grant Achatz starts Twitter debate: Should babies be banned from high-end restaurants? by Tracy Saelinger (TODAY contributor).

I don’t think they should ban babies, it is up to the parents to be respectful of others who are dining. If the baby should get agitated or upset and cry, take a breather and walk with the baby. At 8 mo my son was still Breastfeeding so a quick boob fix was all he would need to nod back off again or at least relax and be in mommy milk trance for a while. With that said, my almost 2-year-old doesn’t understand “inside” voice yet. Personally, I would never dream of bringing him to a 3 hour, 18 course meal that cost over $200 per plate and you have to wait for weeks or months for a table.

If you can afford a restaurant that expensive then you probably have a full-time live in nanny that the kids can stay with. Or at least a full-time nanny/babysitter you can ask to stay late and pay them an overtime bonus. Do babysitters cancel, sure they do but then be the respectful parent and walk out when your baby starts to cry. If you are like most Americans and you can’t “normally” afford the restaurant then it is a “special” date night and you should enjoy your spouse/significant other/whoever you are with without babies and children.

We have not had a date night since R was born. We did attempt it once when the little guy was 5 months old but we were called back before our dinner was served. We take him everywhere, he has even been to an Irish Pub!! Of course it was for a late lunch, but he had a good time sitting at the table like a big boy, no high chairs there. He is a good baby/toddler and on the rare occasion when he gets a little loud(or has a tantrum) I excuse myself and take him outside for a cool down walk. Most times people give the look of sympathy as I walk by with a mad toddler.

All in all, maybe not ban babies but if the parents don’t get off their asses and take the baby out of the restaurant then definitely have the waiter politely ask them to take the baby outside until it has calmed down and is no longer crying. It is the parents who need to be respectful of others.

The Excitement of Moving

A few months ago we decided to move.  Our target time frame is about 16 months from now.  We decided to move to be closer to family and friends.  My fiancée had a scare in September.  After everything calmed down and he was home from the hospital we talked about the what if’s.  He would like us to be close to family and friends who could help me out if anything should happen.  Home is where ever we are together, but with the little guy in tow now our priorities have changed.

I spent today looking at various apartments and places for rent online.  Some I knew of but I found one that is a hidden gem.  Has everything we would ever want.  It is a townhouse with a full basement with washer and dryer hook ups, 1 full bath up stairs and a 1/2 bath on the 1st floor, HUGE kitchen and living room, but the best thing is the private fenced in small garden backyard.  The best part is that it cost the same as what we are paying for our 1 bedroom 1 bath we have now.

Now I am super excited!!  I am looking forward to visiting in the spring so I can check it out.  It will be so nice to be around my family and have Robert grow up with his cousins and my friends kids who are the same age.  I have started organizing our stuff and we have consolidated everything we can.  ♥

Having a PPD Moment … Getting Personal… Family, Heartbreak and Hope…

** DISCLAIMER **  I wrote this on Nov 15th and made it a private post.  It is a very emotional post and I wasn’t going to post it but, after talking to some of the women in my PPD group I have decided to make it public.  I am not the only one going through these emotions even though situations may be different the raw emotion expressed here is me to the core.  I will not apologize for my feelings as they are a part of who I am.  This post was written to help me heal a wound that had occurred as a result of events unknown to me, we are the ones who are living with and feeling the effects of someone else’s decisions that I can not control.  The person who looses the most is my son.   My follow-up post is GETTING CLOSE TO THE TIME OF YEAR WE VERBALLY GIVE THANKS…  where I thank everyone who is close in my heart.  **
As we get closer to making the big move.  I am laying out the cost and looking for places to live.  I like the idea of finding a nice townhouse to rent to start with and then we can take the time to find a nice house in my old school district.  And it looks like we should be able to make our move in about 18 months give or take a couple of months.  And as I think about moving I am excited to be closer to family and friends some, who I have known since I was a wee little girl.  This isn’t a case of “the grass is greener” but of “this grass just ain’t gettin’ greener.”  :/

We now live in a small(very small, the size of a town) city with a handful of my SO’s family around.  They aren’t as close-knit as my family is even with all the miles between us.  It makes me sad to be so close to family and not get to see them in so long.  I know everyone is busy with work and nuclear family time but my son has a cousin 6 weeks older than him who he hasn’t seen since Easter.  And that breaks my heart.  I always extend invites and many times never receive a reply.  My mind knows it isn’t anything personal, but my heart feels otherwise.  Oh well…  I keep the hope that we will see everyone before we move to NY but as time passes my heart grows weary and sad.

When I think about it I get so sad and then I think about how some people might think I have it easy being a stay home mom who gets to play with her child all day.  Let me say…  it is hard to find activities to entertain and educate our little guy all day, EVERY day, 7 days a week.  Some days I would love to have a child care provider I could drop him off at and then pick him up, even if just for 2 hours.  I love my son with all my heart and would do anything for him and anything to protect him but sometimes mommy needs a break too.  Yes, it is fun to watch his mind work every moment and yes it is nice to be able to do things with him.  Am I lucky??  Some days I really question if I am and I think that a family with 2 working parents have it easy being able to drop their child/children off to someone so they can have the daunting task of entertaining a toddler.  Usually those days are accompanied with the major meltdowns or tantrums from being frustrated.

Add in that I am not just a Stay At Home Mom(SAHM) but I am trying to launch a company using nap times as work times, staying up late working on various products, making tutorials, doing research and setting up a webstore.  My SO works 11.5 hours a day 5-6 days a week and when he gets home he has about 1.5 hours with our son before it is bedtime.  I am up until about 11pm almost every night working on business stuff that I can’t get done during the day.  The little guy wakes around 5 am but never after 6:15am.  In our house 6:15 is sleeping in.  So there’s not much time for sleep.

A little more than 2 months ago my SO had to be rushed to the hospital with chest pains.  I was scared out of my mind, I had no one I could really talk to other than his Mom, who is wonderful and I love her dearly, but she was only here in town for vacation.  We were very lucky it wasn’t his heart but it really put life into perspective for us.  We made the decision to move to NY so I could be closer to a tight-knit support group of family and friends.  It will be nice to be closer to the friends and family I left when I moved to Fl 15 years ago.  I miss my parents, my siblings (even though 1/2 are not in the area anymore), my friends who have stayed by my side even though we have had over 1000 miles between us, and all my nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins…  I look forward to all the play dates, family get togethers, “mommy” time, and having a network of fabulous people who I can call and say “hey, I am stressed out, can you help me out” and know that they will be there as soon as they can to lend a hand.

I will miss our family we have here in MA, of course, but with everyone working such crazy hours there aren’t enough hours in a day to squeeze in anyone but the nuclear family.  I have gotten really close with Sean’s Aunt and love spending time with her.  I will miss her tons and will have to teach her how to Skype.  I was asked today “How great is it that your little one has a cousin to play with who is the same age?”  I replied, “I don’t know, we haven’t seen them since a few days after Easter.”  The person responded “That is so sad, hope you see them soon.”  In that moment I felt my heart sink wondering if we will see them before we move.  I try to keep it all in and not let the emotions out but some days it is harder than others to mask my sadness, and today is one of those days.  Today I have thought about how much I miss all our family and friends near and far.  Some days I feel so isolated because I am a SAHM and feel as I and our family is not worthy of other’s time, like I am not good enough…  I work my butt off all day everyday to not only raise our son but to build a business of our own.

That is all the jumbled rant I have today.  I am sure getting this out and a good night sleep will do wonders to lift up my spirits.  In just over 6 hours I will have to smile and giggle my way through the day, “fake it till ya make it” philosophy.

 

New Crafty Outlet – Resin

I did my first Resin pour about a month ago and I was amazed how easy it was.  I chose to start with a nail polish design.

Image08012013195238I got all set up and sat down to what I thought was going to be something hard to do.  To my amazement it was super easy to do each set.  I mixed my resin in a small batch.  poured it into the molds so the molds were just shy of half full.  Then came the fun part.  I put drops of nail polish in and then poured resin over the top.  super easy however…  not so good since the combination of the 2 caused a few air bubbles in some pieces.  So I did a few more batches and moved on to making my own mold.
wheeeee  so fun!!  I can mold just about anything.  yippy.   While it was in the mold I made a nice bottle cap piece.  I have started to really work with different inclusions.  The drift wood was on but it kept needing to be pushed down.  The shell was easy and stayed where I placed it.
About a week ago I started to really branch out.  I got some mog podge, stickers, and nail art to include in my pieces.  The nail art was nice but it spread out as the resin cured and with that I learned to wait until it is really tacky before adding them if I am trying to make a pattern with them.

Fun Resin Pieces

I have now found my newest passion.  Now finding the time when I can do this is hard…  Keep watching I will post more updates with new pieces as my skill increases.  🙂

Applying High School Math to Current “Invasion” Events

Here is how to apply those high school math skills that most kids say “I will never use this in real life”.  Little did we know we use logic skills all the time.  Here is how it applies to the invasion of Syria Drama.

It makes no sense to attack Syria and defend the same people who are seen as a threat to this nation.  A bit hypocritical if you ask me.  Not to mention that China is against it and we borrow money from them all the time to keep out over paid “lawmakers” in their cozy lifestyle (among other ridiculous spending).

Common logic is:

1. China doesn’t support attacking Syria

2. The US borrows money from China

SO…since 1 and 2 are both true we can conclude:

It is also true that If the US attacks Syria then China will cut off all funding to the US.

Meaning, if we want to keep our nations strong we don’t bite the hand that feeds us!!

Mystery Shopping is FUN

I was surprised at how easy and fun mystery shopping can be.  there are some that are harder to do and require more effort but those are also the shops that pay/reimburse the most money.  I can’t list where I have don’t shops but I can say I have done everything from an eatery to a car dealership.  I think the dealership shops are my favorite so far and they are the ones that pay the best.  One thing that most of the shops stipulate are that 1. you aren’t friends or related to anyone at the place (kind of common sense) and 2. you haven’t shopped there in the last 5 – 12 months(the time frame is different with all locations).

I think the amusement park one was the BEST.  I was reimbursed for my entry to the park, parking, lunch, and 1 small item from the gift shop plus an extra 4 free passes to return anytime I want with-in the next year.  Not to mention we had lots of fun!  When I got to the survey part it was very long and needed a lot of detail.  Took about 5 hours to complete the survey; thankfully I had good notes.

What I have found to be the biggest help is to look like I am sending a text message to someone on my phone and send myself lots of small emails while I do my shops.  When I get home I then open my emails compile the information into a document and start the survey.  It makes most surveys go faster.

I know I have said for people to contact me if they are interested in doing mystery shopping.  The bonus part is that some of the companies will give out bonuses for sending referrals.  Please, do contact me any way just so I know to look out for a new referral.  My favorite company is BestMark (that is my direct referral link).  The other companies have their own internal referral system which will send an email out to the person I enter in.  If you would like for me to have those links sent to you via email please fill out the contact info sheet:(the information you enter will not be public and will remain private.  It will only be used to send you the links from the companies I do shops for)

My New Adventure as a Mystery Shopper

I watched an episode on the Katie Show about a month ago about how a girl paid for her student loans by doing mystery shopping.  So I thought there had to be a catch, right?  So I did a little research and found MSPA North America.  I have never enjoyed something so much.  My first few shops were perfect.  I was beginning to wonder if I wasn’t going to have a “bad shop”.  Maybe I was too lenient.  Then it happened, I had my first bad shop and to top it off it was the store manager of the place I had to rate poorly.  Overall it has been so much fun.  I joined an agency where I shop places of entertainment and Robert and I get to enjoy fun things while I make money doing something we would do anyway.  Another nice thing about doing these is I can do them when I travel too.  I am loving it but i need to find a way to balance everything in my life.  That is the tricky part.

There are easy shops that can be done from home that are only a quick phone call or a web evaluation.  The ones from the house pay between $4.00 – $6.00 for 5 minutes of my time.  Most of the surveys are quick.  I have learned that the shops that pay the most generally have the longest and most detailed surveys with a bunch of narratives.  I did a big one that required a 7 hour evaluation and the survey took about 6 hours to complete the pay was about $115 for my time and 4 free tickets to return in the future.  That is awesome because now we have 2 free family trips there.  AMAZING.  Most of the shops break down to about $0.50 per minute (or $30.00/hour).  Not a bad way to bring in a little extra cash.

If you’re interested in doing mystery shopping in your area:

Catching up …

The last week has been a flurry of heat (temps near 95-100), failure, grumpiness, sadness, elation, and so many more events and emotions.  I failed with the AC installment but I now have 5 fans rotating the air around the apartment.  So far so good the average temp in the apt has maintained a high of 85 degrees Fahrenheit on the hot days.

Robert seemed to have seemingly endless days of poop explosions.  Poor kid, I was beside myself trying to get him to even eat something.  It was rough.  He wanted to be held, then he would want to be free to run around then  he wanted to snuggle…  it was a long week of separation anxiety to the MAX.  Finally he is eating normal and his poop is getting back on track with no explosions.  Before we left for the zoo Monday I made sure to pack 2 changes of clothes and extra wipes.  He had 2 explosive poops before we left, but to be on the safe side I left the change of clothes in his bag.  It was a nice outing with the other mom’s in our group and I am pleased that he didn’t have a major poop overflow until we got home and started playing.

I was at my wit’s end for a few days.  Absolutely nothing seemed to be going our way.  But the clouds have seemed to start breaking up.  I now have office space and have started working on new packaging ideas for my baby products.  I got a job working as a mystery shopper, which I will show the “How To” later in another post.  But I will say this.  It has helped me feel like I am helping out with the house even if it isn’t a lot of money it is something.

Robert is now walking like a champ but this also requires a lot more of my attention as he can now move around a lot faster and can get into more things.  Going to the park is a lot more fun now that he is walking.  I have started letting him climb up and go over to the slide and slide down all by himself like a big boy.  Of course I am right next to him as he climbs the steps, tots over to the slide and catch him at the bottom.  He has a blast.

This next week will be an exciting one as we start getting settled in the new office and really start to work with the 3D printing machine.

Review: My First Crayola Mess Free Marker & Paper

Overall Rating: ★★★

Durability: ★★★✩✩

Fun to use: ★★★★✩

Value:  ★★★

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Robert’s 1st Masterpiece

I got Robert the My First Crayola Mess Free Marker & Paper.  It is a cute little cow marker that he can put in his palm of his hand.  He was able to manipulate it across the page with ease.  I was a little disappointed with the lack of durability of the product.  He is 16 months old and at the smashing stage and even after working with him to be gentile he liked the spots the marker made when smashed.   When he smashed it the tip went up into the cow and now only a small tip remains.  The fact that the marker will only mark on special paper is wonderful.  Our biggest issue when we go out to eat is that Robert likes to try to color on the table with crayons.  The Mess Free Marker and Paper fits in his diaper bag and helps distract him while we wait.  he has fun and we don’t have to try to remove crayon marks before leaving.  Because the tip is smashed in so easily I give the value only 3 stars as it will need to be replaced sooner than it dying a slow marker death.

Crayola offers free Coloring Pages that can be printed on a home printer.