Life on a budget

Originally I had thought to do this post on ways to save money with twins. When I sat down to write, I realized, most people are trying to save money either for that vacation you’ve been dying for, the new car you need, or let’s face it just to pay the bills. So, here are a few of our tricks we stick to in order to save some dough.

Freezing- ok, kind of common sense that you can get things on a good sale and stock up. But, often, were not positive what we can actually freeze. We looked up what are big items in our house and found that we could freeze almost all of them!
Buttermilk- butter, milk, and buttermilk
Veggies- peppers, corn etc
Fruits- grapes, fruit purรฉes are super convenient with the kiddos too.
I found this handy when deciding what I can freeze!

Discounts- we love to do activities with the boys but they can be so expensive. Many zoos, museums, aquariums etc have days that they offer discounts in addition to the school, military/veteran or senior discounts they offer. In many bigs cities they usually offer a free day to residents. If you can handle the crowds, that’s your best bet. If you’re like me and want to sterilize the stupid parents letting their kid hang over bars into the bear enclosure then I would suggest the student, military type discounts and a slow day/time ๐Ÿ˜‰

of course DIY
Some things are cheaper to do yourself-others will actually cost you more in the long run. So, list all supplies and what they will cost you. We have a few on the docket right now (including making toddler beds and growing our garden) and will be making good use of the tools Scott stocked up during college:) We also make our own butter, yogurt and house hold cleaner among others! This goes hand in hand with repurposing but keep in mind it is sometimes way cheaper to buy something retail than to make it, do the math first.

Repurposing
Pretty simple idea but often we forget what projects we have going and just want to reduce clutter resulting in something reusable being tossed. So, we’ve started a project binder with correlating totes. Each has a place and when we have an item it gets put with other items for that project and saved. Right now we have the old swing set off to the side in our yard torn into pieces. The monkey bars from that will become a trellis for our garden peas! The rest will be the foundation for a garden box! Saving us about 100$

Wants vs Needs
In an effort to eliminate frivolous spending we have also begun keeping a bill organizer. We save all receipts and tally them as we spend, making us more mindful of where and what’s we spend. you would also be surprised what isn’t absolutely necessary for example, and being another. Now, I’m not sure if I could commit to the TP…but, I have stuck to the anti-shampoo regiment for about a week at a time. I do agree with the link, for the first few days it feels greasy and gets MUCH better over time. Now a bottle of shampoo lasts about 4 months, and my hair is a lot healthier!

Resale
When you are ready to part with certain belongings see if you can sell them first-Craigslist, Ebay and local resale shops are always options. Depending on what it is you may be able to get a few bucks back. Old water heaters, tires and-most recently for us-outgrown baby items! That 30$ pays for a movie tickets on date night

Meal planning
It goes without saying that if you spend 5$ on coffee & 10$ on lunch that by the end of the week or month the cost really adds up. But, if you’re like me eating the same thing every day will get pretty boring. So to tackle that we meal plan different things every week, ie week 1 is salads, week 2 is sandwiches and so on. We also plan for lunches and dinners for 2 week periods. This means we only buy what we need for those meals and since we don’t ever plan for junk food, we just don’t have it in the house:) a win win when trying to eat smart and be budget friendly.

Share your money saving tips!!

Play dough jello cookies

In the spirit of spring I’ve been planning away-picking out new activities, finding new places etc- but some spring days in the Midwest are too rainy and overcast to pull out summer stuff quite yet. So we enjoyed this inside activity the other day!
I had originally looked for jello play dough but once I saw the ingredient list I realized we could easily bake these into cookies once the boys got bored…a nice way to lengthen the activity;)
What you will need:
4 1/2 c of flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 3/4 c unsalted butter(softened)
1 c sugar
1 egg(and I added 2 tbs egg whites)
1 tsp salt
5 boxes of jello (3oz size)
You can add a flavor extract like vanilla, BUT the jello flavor is really intense so I wouldn’t recommend it.
Mix all ingredients except jello into a dough.
dough balls

Divide dough into 5 chunks and mix one 3oz box of jello into each dough chunk.

squishing awayThe boys got a kick out of crumbling the dough and squishing it. But when that entertainment value was gone we just moved onto the baking portion:)We used two tablespoons to evenly measure and shape the dough into balls. After that A&B rolled them in sugar, placed on the cookie sheet flatten a bit and baked! Our oven runs really hot so we baked them at 325(ish) degrees for about 10-15 minutes.

unnamedCARRHOEEmeasuringrolling in sugar

And voila, Play dough jello cookies!

coooookies
This recipe made about 30 cookies for us. It is definitely a kids cookie or for adults who like intense punchy flavors. All in all we had fun!

Skip Hop walk along review

It’s no secret that lugging even the most compact double stroller around is a pain in the arse. So, I’ve been looking for alternatives. In my searching I came to the conclusion that I could either get a single stroller and a boogie board. Stupid considering our city select can be used as a single or double and also has an accessory called a glider board. But the problem with the glider boards is that they are right where your feet need to be when pushing and walking. Other option? get leashes, which we have also tried. Again, pointless as you have to hold two leashes and that uses one or both hands, kinda inconvenient if you are trying to accomplish…well…anything. I finally found these gems! Skip Hops new walk along attachable handles on the side means we could still use the stroller as a single and not be concerned about kicking them as we walk. Great in theory right?! But, did they pass the test??
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We did get two since you can loop them onto just about anything-shopping cart included-a nice way to break from a stroller all together. Looping them isn’t difficult, but could be easier(the plastic is rather stiff so it takes a little maneuvering)
20140409-200316.jpg the guys had no issues being directed to “hold on” and even enjoyed being able to get out and walk.
Now the downsides-and I don’t see these as avoidable at all- turning is a joke. I ended up making the beeping sound like a forklift backing up. They got a kick out of it, but at least I had their attention so I wouldn’t run em over. And having them on either side of the stroller makes it รผber wide a con for a host of other reasons…..20140409-200852.jpg
Overall would I recommend them? Yes!
I only foresee us using these more and more as they outgrow the stroller……see walk along

Boon product reviews

It’s no secret I love boon, their stylish modern baby items are just too fun to pass up. Here are the ones we’ve tried and love…..I promise you will love them too!
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Boon lawn and patch with twig accessory- originally we only had the lawn and it was a wonderful addition to the kitchen not just for baby items either and it’s large size meant it could hold bottles for twins or even dishes. The grass is rigid enough to hold even our heavy dinner platters! But as the boys grew we didn’t always need the sq footage of a lawn we downsized to the patch, it was a perfect little addition in our new kitchen. With the patch we do have to be careful since it’s dimensions mean it can tip easier than the lawn. The pieces come apart so remember to rinse it often to keep it fresh. Only downside to this set up is twig branches are a bit short and therefore it doesn’t hold much, bit of a bummer with twins. They are however flexible which was a big plus to get things to stay on it.
Worth the money? YES
Boon bench potties-ok, I wasn’t sold on these AT ALL from about 9-14m. For a little boy they did not want to work, splash guard was never in place, the seat and to holder were constantly popping apart etc, very disappointing for a 40$ kiddy potty. BUT, we decided to give em one more go before we pitched me since that was 80$ invested in toilets. It was like night and day, clearly these potties were made for a specific size of child because they covered little boy parts perfectly from 15m-24m, and if you’ve ever potty trained a boy you know how important this is! Now at 2 we could use them as the step stool they were designed as but like I said before the parts are constantly popping off/sliding around. I had hoped for WAY better quality and longevity but the design for a little boy potty is on the spot.
Worth the money though? NOPE
Boon squirt– these, by far, were the only way I saved my sanity feeding twins! Great design and overall quality. I wish they sold replacement pieces(more than just caps). We had a rainbow of these things and I only wish they made a version with a bigger hole in the spoon to allow for chunkier food!!
Worth the money? YES, if you feed a lot of stage one foods…I’m talking to you, parents of multiples.
Boon Ray this tub drain cover does just what it says, and surprisingly well I might add! It provides and amazing seal when your regular tub drain won’t! I thought the boys would try and play with it since it looks sooo much like one of their toys but we’ve been lucky…so far ๐Ÿ˜‰
Worth the money? Yes, if you have old drains that don’t have a nice seal to hold water
Boon snack ball– this one is better as a snow ball mold than a snack holder. It’s awkward lid easily popped off and the small opening was even difficult for toddler hands to manage. It was a rare miss for boon with this one.
Worth the money? NOPE, unless you live in Alaska and honestly want a snow ball mold
Boon Glo-ok I could probably do one entry on this this alone, it’s that awesome. After reading some mixed reviews we decided it would be a birthday gift for the boys 2nd. So, realistically, it’s not been in use that long and I may have different opinions after prolonged use but….this thing even kept Scott entertained. It has a few different settings which is really nice, the removable balls do hold a decent charge for late night potty breaks, and overall it’s pretty sturdy. So far A&B love it and are entranced! I just wish it wasn’t always really static-y….it attracts pet hair like a mofo.
Worth the money? Debatable, the price is rather steep for a kids night light, but this would be a staple in any child’s room for years! boon glo
glowing boon glo
Boon stash– this cool counter or wall organization has entertained the boys for hours! It even inspired our pvc wall desk, with sturdy construction it has even held up to being thrown and dropped, something I can’t say for the wood composites from target.
Worth the money? YEP
Boon gnaw– ok this is supposed to worth somewhat like a Chinese finger trap to hold you kiddos goodies and clip it to them so they don’t get tossed to the floor…..key word supposed to. First, the clip is a joke and even at 6m they pulled it right off. Second, the part that should hold your kiddos item….doesn’t fit anything-we tried crackers, nam teethers etc….nothing worked with it. I’m not sure what boon had in mind with this one, the best we found was that they just chewed on it.
Worth the money? Hells NO
Boon benders – these toddler utensils bend at the base so your little one has an easier time navigating a spoon/fork to their mouth. Great right? The plastic is durable and didn’t crack even after a year of dishwashing and toddle use, and the guys find them easy to use. However, Walmart carries these in generics for way cheaper if you have to have em. I would have been better served with a bigger utensil like the nuk designed ones as these hold next to nothing(especially by the time they make it into a mouth).
Worth the money? Not so much
Boon catch bowl – the hope with these was that we could minimize messes/spills. Sadly the suction base won’t stick (not to wood plastic or granite) at least not enough to deter the guys from pulling them off the table, flinging all its contents. The lip on the side to catch spills is however, really handy. So, I kind of have a love/ hate with this bowl. Best used for slippery finger foods with a toddler that knows to leave bowls on the table.
Worth the money? Yes, but only if you’re buying it for the catch lip and NOT the suction base.
Boon stout– these cup/sippies are dual purpose and workin stages first a sippy then a free flow sippy then a cup. Wonderful concept and perfect in application . The wide base on this means it stays upright even with little hands setting it down. The ability to use it through a few stages means longer life. Now boon just needs to sell replacement valves!
Worth the money? Hells YES
Boon swig– these come in two sizes and both had the same considerations for us….the nipple/sippy hole was far too small even for them at 7m so we cut them to make em faster flow. The seal was great for meal times but not a sippy to leave out or with your kiddo unattended. The small caps they came with popped off really easily so don’t plan on that stopping leaks in your diaper bag. They pro of these were that they were a nice step off of bottles with nipples. A&B actually really liked these and would often refuse other sippy styles for these.
Worth the money?Yes, for the big one though.boon saucer
Boon saucer -the sectioned plate is supposed to help with portions while having no hard edges…..ermmmm well sorry to say I have nothing positive to say about these aside from the mod design the pros end there. The base is not sticky enough as our guys could easily push and pull them across all types of counters and the roundness means its a huge challenge for younger kiddos. Not what I want to deal with when they hardly manage utensils.
Worth the money? Not so much

What were excited to try next: Link, fleet, and pieces!!

Mini Men birthday bash!!

I know every parent says it’s crazy and they can’t believe it and time flys and yes it’s all true. But with twins I think it’s a bit of a love-hate thing. The early years are so difficult yet we miss them being little (and not touching everything they shouldn’t while saying they’re saying “no, no”). So, feeling a little bittersweet about it, we celebrated our mini men’s 2nd birthday on Saturday! Take a peek!
invite2014

invite design by tanias design studio

mini men!ABB

we were shocked to see so many family and friends come to celebrate the special day with us THANK YOU!!!
all party dรฉcor done by me- you can find me on etsy at ModLilBB

Tightening after twins….when diet and exercise just don’t cut it

In light of the fact that I REGULARLY get asked if the twins are even mine I thought I would share some of my beauty secrets.
Let me preface this by saying goals should be realistic and looking like you did in high school or even early college is somewhat far fetched for most …and I’m just going to say it… pathetic. I’m not trying to relive the “glory days” here. That being said it’s not unfair to want to look and feel confident in your own skin.
Like most twin moms in the weeks and months following delivery I was HORRIFIED….why had no one told me I wouldn’t even fit into early pregnancy clothes post csection is still beyond me. The sad fact is that many new moms are never talked to about any post baby stuff during pregnancy to better prepare emotionally and mentally. All I was told was, “you’re young, you’re body will bounce back…” Boy was that doctor WRONG! But, that’s a different topic- what I want to share is how I used natural and cheap methods to become me again!
Post delivery I wasn’t the momma who lost mass amounts in days from breast feeding. Though BF’ing did help shed pounds-it didn’t change the skin or the sag. In my twin pregnancy I gained 28lbs total, I was on the small side, however, I went from a size 00 to a 10 in my short 34wks. Take a guess what that did to my hips and thighs, and let’s not even mention the boobs or ab area. That is what led me to look up methods to be rid of that body that became foreign to me. I soon found plastic surgery…the quick fix….not quite ready to resign myself to having surgery at 23, let alone pay for it, I kept looking. Wraps, lasers and other expensive salon treatments were next, but here again for how expensive it is you are still not guaranteed results, so no thanks. Both of these methods also involve the possibility of heavy scaring, not something that really appealed considering I was trying to get rid of “scars”.
Working within my means I got a personal trainer and hit the fitness and nutrition method, drank lots of water, ate balanced meals, no junk food etc. While I admit it helped me get back to a size 2(by 12m post delivery) it still didn’t fix my problem areas. Fitness was great and all but I wanted my skin back, not just my overall body size.
An impending beach vacation 4m post delivery meant I desperately wanted to don my bikinis. Fat chance at being confident enough for that! Though they covered all the necessary parts, I still packed numerous cover-ups. Granted, I had now lost all the weight and I probably wasn’t as saggy as I thought, my confidence was GONE. When we returned from vacation I was so down that I revisited the methods I had researched. That’s when I stumbled upon Bentonite Clay, the main ingredient in many wraps and salon treatments, the benefits of this natural supplement are vast. But, it would be months before I would try it. In the interim I tried mederma, scar lotions, skin tightening elixirs, anti-agers and anti-cellulite…all to no avail. Time to give the clay a shot.
Now, there are many methods to mix and apply. This depends on your preferences, skin type and goals. I, personally, have sensitive skin and simply used water but I did like coconut oil, and yogurt. The first attempt was MESSY, I painted it on like a paste (thicker for a more intense mask), then sealed it all up with plastic wrap and went overtop with ace wraps for compression; I bought about 10 ace wraps and plastic wrap. I then laid still for about an hour. I am not particularly fond of this method, mainly because I have two toddlers and this is a pain in the ass. However it worked! I instantly saw an improvement in the elasticity of my skin. Skeptical, I waited until the next day to really assess anything. The next day I was still pleased and decided to try it again, but modify it. As I played not only with ingredients but also duration and ways to wrap, I continued to be impressed with my results. After 3 hour-long wraps, the handful of marks on my belly were gone. Yes, gone! Admittedly, my stomach marks were not so much of my issue as my inner hips/thighs and boobs.
To be honest, I fell off the wagon for about a month as the time just wasn’t there. So, if I wanted to keep doing masks it was time for a revamp. I started back up and tried simply mixing with water and applying to desired areas, no wrapping, no laying still, just a bit of Nakie time ๐Ÿ˜‰ and results were still just as impressive! I ditched all the extras and continued masks like this once every 2 weeks. Let’s just say EPIC!! Fully satisfied with my “new” boobies I wondered what else the mask would work for. I started using it as a facial, and I couldn’t have been happier. My acne (that I’ve battled since high school; even prescriptions and diet didn’t touch) is GONE. It has evened out my skin and again improved elasticity. I will note that I do very light and thin masks for my face since I do them way more often than body masks.
I am now about a month into this routine (body masks every week and face every 3 days) and I LOVE it. I get beauty/mommy time to relax and enjoy, which was a huge boost to my confidence, (being able to spend time on me) doing something I feel improves me. Even if I am the only one to see the difference I am thrilled that something so simple has allowed me to regain what I feel is ME.
So here are the basics-
Needs:
Ice – To close up pores post mask…yup all “masked” areas. And to be fair cold water will do. I just find it easier to rub an ice cube over areas.
Bentonite clay – There are many different names for it and even different types. Try em see what you like based on your skin. And don’t mix in it or with metal. It reduces it’s potency, I made this mistake early on:/
Cocoa butter – Pure, organic with no additives. I found it on amazon.
Nutrition & Exercise – Pretty self explanatory but also drinking lots of water.
Now, lemme take a selfie…..
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pictures are 1, 2 and 3 weeks post partum
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first two pictures are after 1 mask- last picture though not great quality is pre any mask
again keep in mind my belly was not my problem area however there is really no good way to photograph my inner thighs ;0

Banana bread trials

I’m happy to say we had a rather productive past week! Aside from melting my seeds in the oven :0
-more on that later
But I did want to share the new banana-coconut bread recipes!
We tried 3 recipes and then made some edits to each. Here’s how they turned out…..

Recipe one:coconut banana bread for this one we substituted regular flour with coconut flour….and it ended up quite a bit heavier/denser than the pictured fluffy bread. But, the boys love it and with a little butter melted on a slice it has the perfect flavor, and it made for the perfect Saturday morning snack!20140329-100850.jpg

Recipe two:chocolate chip banana bread again we substituted flour with coconut flour. We also used homemade butter (yes, we make our own) and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Again, this is a heavier/denser bread but nice flavor and a filling snack!
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Recipe three:banana bread this time we used coconut oil rather than vegetable oil, and didn’t add nuts. Before baking it was rather runny, but turned out quite moist! Scott really seems to like it and even the next day it was still very good! More of an adult snack as it falls apart instantly:)20140329-100624.jpg


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Recipe 4: this one is less of a recipe and more of an easily adapted idea, and truthfully was more about not wasting the leftovers and using up some odds and ends:0 BUT it turned out really good! It's the perfect chewy bar type snack for the boys! I can't give you exact measurements (much to Scotts dismay I never measure when I cook) BUT like I said easily adapted
-whole milk
-raw steel cut oats
-wheat germ and flax
-cinnamon
-honey
-sugar
-4 mashed ripe bananas

Enjoy!;

Spring gardening

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A&B seem to be enjoying our first new adventure into……
gardening!!!

Well with spring just around the corner we are getting in gear to plant our garden! While both Scott and myself don’t exactly have “green thumbs” we thought we would give gardening a go this year. We’ve talked about all the things we would want and decided on a few that were realistic to try and grow for first timers ๐Ÿ˜‰
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We decided on
1) sugar snap peas
2) corn
3) tomatoes
4) watermelon
5) onions
6) carrots
7) peppers
8) garlic
9) potatoes
10) melon
11) squash
12) herbs….undecided
Actually finding seeds proved to be a little more challenging as we did look for non GMO/organic seeds.[If you aren’t sure of the difference look here] Once we found seeds the other “stuff” seemed even more challenging, did you know you, are supposed to plant certain plants together? Let’s just say, I learned something new… every step of the way with this project! But we have plans for our outdoor beds drawn up, arrangements for where the plants will grow, and vermiculite, all on stand by…..

For now were germinating!

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Potty training Twins

sorry I didn’t want to add many images to this one ๐Ÿ˜‰ hope you understand

Since this seems to be, by far, what I answer the most questions on I thought I would do an update on where we are with potty proofing! Last month we decided that it was unrealistic in this home to have two Boon potty benches out that were ready to move toward the next step. The actual potty. Now, we knew that the boys were a bit afraid of the large seat, but the transition would save space ANNNND make using the regular potty during outings easier. After looking at a few potty toppers we picked the Kiddyloo . Many of the others were ridiculously flimsy and would fall apart as soon as weight was put on it, not to mention they have no guard for boys. This one, while still plastic, is much more secure, gives the boys a comfortable spot, has handles, and get this, it works for boys!!! those of you with lil guys will genuinely appreciate that ๐Ÿ˜‰ They can also take it on and off the potty themselves! To introduce it we simply used what every parent nicely calls a reward…..realistically known as a bribe. We told them if they could use the regular potty they would get a gummy treat (aka a vitamin gummy, hey, don’t judge, what they don’t know won’t kill them). Worked like a charm because B climbed right up went #2 got off and held his hand out for his treat. He ate his treat and promptly climbed back up went #1 and held out his hand for another treat……STINKER!!! But I’ll take it. We went on giving treats for about 1 week religiously and after sporadically for a really good job.
We have also transitioned 100% to big boy undies! minus night time of course. The guys find great joy in taking undies on and off…and on and off and on and off etc. but it makes for good practice time I guess. They are very good at getting to the potty and getting their undies off. We still haven’t added in shoes/jeans to this mix, but I’m in no rush for that. To get them back to wearing undies we just added more and more time. Originally, they wore bottoms for a half hour or so and we worked our way up to 6hrs (the average stretch of time the are awake for).
Our plan with all of this is that by summer not only will they be able to participate in a few different activities for “potty trained only” children and so that when I go out with them this summer I am not tethered to the house because they refuse the regular potty. As a compromise with the boys I found a folding portable potty seat with handles aka my purse potty. A little gross….and depressing….to be putting in a 400$ coach bag, but again I’m not tied to my house an hour away from the museum, zoo, park…
We have yet to try anything with overnights and naps time and at this point I am all but positive we give them liquid too close to sleep times. The times I have not given liquid they have not pottied, but they also get up WAY earlier then because they are hungry. Sorry, but I value my sleep time too much, so I’ll be letting this one go. At least until summer. Because using cloth and potty training went sooooo well together for us we decided to take them off of disposables completely now in the hope that it will encourage the transition though. Yes, were 100% still using our Gdiapers but I’ll do an entry on that another day!

Missing Madison

I’m starting to realize how much I miss madison….no, not Milwaukee or Whitewater :0 just Madison. The college life and energy in that city was just…great…amazing…FUN. And not just the parties, I always felt safe even when I lived in that suuuuper shitty flat on Wilson with no locks on the doors, and in chalet gardens with the shootings and drug dealers. Hell, I feel pretty safe no matter where I go though with a jack jack ๐Ÿ˜‰ anyone who dares enter with him carrying on like he does deserves whatever they can take! ANYHOW
Seeing a few things though on “Sconnie life” made me see that it’s time to find new hobbies. I loved my Madison experience, but I don’t always want to be looking back. I have decided to get a few books and read up on where I want to go from here!
1) travel- of course this is a huge one for me and always has been. I’ve never been shy about saying I don’t want to stay in the Midwest. But beyond that, Scott and I both really want to show the boys life outside the US. So, I have begun research on the top places we have on our list; Iceland, Scotland, Argentina, and among many others Bora Bora.
2) hiking-I’ve never been a huge fan, but since my back issues have nixed going back to running heavily, I’m thinking I’d like to try it. The area we’re in is beautiful and at least I’d have scenic routes, and many pictures to capture.amazing

Hopefully I can find a few more of these

abandon farm HWY 14
2) woodworking-ok, to be fair,this one is more Scott’s than mine, however, I would like to do this with him. Hopefully, we will be taking classes at the Rebuilders Exchange next month, and building a desk for the office!!
3) homeschooling- yes, the more Scott and I look at not only the things that happen in schools(um have you seen the case of the two 5 year olds having sex in the school bathroom?!) but also the things that don’t happen ie the quality of the education. I do feel like we can do better, at least until high school:) because at that point daddy may have to take over the math lessons;) I actually had a high school math teacher tell me he would pass me just so that he didn’t have to see me again next year:0….brutally honest.
5) ok, this is more of a collection of the odds and ends -you know- doing a garage sale, finishing(more accurately starting and finishing) the boys bed project etc.

in other words I need to write my TO DO list and start crossing things off!!

Spring is just around the corner, time to get motivated!