Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Faith in a New Season
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.-Hebrews11:1

This week, I found myself thumbing through my wedding album. I was viewing one of those TLC wedding shows at the time and I desperately wanted to relive and connect with how I felt that day. There was so much drama leading up to that day, so many things that, in my mind, should have happened but didn't. But at the end of that very long day I was laying in bed drinking champagne with my husband. It made it all worth it.

I was full of so much hope and faith in our future. I looked at those couples on the show, their hope for a life together shining in their eyes and their smiles and I sighed. I hope you never go through what so many couples go through, the thing that no one talks about in public, the secret shame of infertility.


Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” -Matthew 17:20

I sat through a sermon at our church a few weeks ago called Borrowed Faith. I cried through most of it because I really thought God was talking to me. My faith is as small as that mustard seed. I feel as though I am leaning on a pillow instead of a rock and I am afraid I don't have the strength to hold myself up. I am living on borrowed faith right now, hoping to be healed on borrowed faith. I am going through my third or fourth reading of the Bible these days and am currently in Matthew. I read the words highlighted in red and I am full of hope. I put it down and I despair.

I wish I had the faith of the woman with the issue of blood, especially since I had the issue of blood myself for a few years. I see in her a kindred spirit. She ran after Him seeking her blessing. A blessing she knew he would bestow. I barely have the strength to lift my head some days much less reach for the hem of His garment. I pray in my spirit without words. The words will not come so I sit and hope my spirit can convey them.

I came across this post by Lisha Epperson, who waited 14 years before she was blessed with a child from her womb:
 Embedded image permalink
It was probably written while she was in the throes of her own struggle but it crystallized exactly how I had been feeling for the past few months or few years... I needed the validation that her words provided. I read it and thought of my lost faith, wondering if I would ever find it again.


Jesus sees the greater need, not just the need you want addressed-Pastor George

EH and I tried to get out of going to a baby shower that takes place this weekend. It is the shower of our former pastor. EH and I helped to plan her wedding and acted as coordinator and assistant on her special day last year. We all grew close in the process. She was an older woman who had been praying for the Lord to send her a partner for many years and finally, finally, her prayers were answered. She had what I think of as BIG faith. They got pregnant very soon after the wedding and called us, excited about the news. We had just discovered we were pregnant with our third child, the child we thought would be our miracle. A few weeks later, our miracle passed away and we were devastated.

So, needless to say, we weren't really up to being surrounded by their friends and family and former church members AND having to field the inevitable question of when we would be having children. Having to smile, smile, smile. We tried to wiggle our way out of going only to find that they were having not one but two baby showers which we were more than welcome to attend. At that point, EH was trying to think of a way to wiggle out of the second one. I decided against it. I may come to regret it but I was so tired of letting this affliction change us, so tired of lying. So we will go to this shower because maybe God wants us to go; maybe there is a greater need being addressed that we can't see or understand. We have been shielding ourselves for so long. Maybe it's time to put down the armor.


Develop your faith so it can be seen-Pastor George

I have been hiding my light under a bushel. I have felt inadequate in so many areas and I'm slowly coming out from under the rock I've been under. I've been making family albums on I am casting away the idea that we are not complete somehow. We are complete in each other for the moment and I want to celebrate that. Every picture I place is a remembrance of our fortitude, our strength as a family of two. 

I have a heart for service that has been stagnant for too long. This week I'll be participating in my first volunteer opportunity at a nursing home in my area and I am sooooo excited about the possibility of taking my attention away from myself for once. I am working to re-develop my faith in myself and in God. One mustard seed at a time.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Simple Living 101: Part 4-Simplicity in the Kitchen

Uggggghhhhh....chicken and waffles!!!!

More than anything, EH and I love stuffing our faces. I mean...we LOVE food! Who doesn't? Simplifying the food we eat and how we get our food has been a real challenge for me. I remember admitting in the beginning of this blog journey that being a homemaker doesn't come easy for me. I've been a stay-at-home wife for a little over a year now and I finally had to, reluctantly, take ownership of the role.

EH only knows how to make salmon cakes and some breakfast foods (pancakes, eggs, bacon, etc.). I have a slightly larger repertoire but not by much. I learned how to cook mostly by necessity and trial and error in my teens and got a little better in college (my first attempt at making rice and peas and failing miserably still haunts me). When EH and I started living together, we were mostly vegetarian so I didn't really have to push myself much. It was pretty hard to mess up imitation meat and vegetables!

Now that I'm in my 30s, I'm starting to enjoy making meals. I enjoy it so much that we're eating more than ever and spending more than we ever have on food. Here are some of the ways I've found to cut costs and some of the things we're still working on in this area.


There aren't that many options for healthy food in our neighborhood so EH and I decided that we would get our groceries online through the grocery delivery service, Fresh Direct. Initially, like so many other people that we mentioned this to, I balked at the idea. Why in the world would we order food online when we can just go up the block and get it at the supermarket?? Turns out there were a couple of reasons why this was a better choice for us but there are pros and cons.

1. More choice in healthy, organic food. After I had my myomectomy to remove fibroids it became really important to me to eliminate chemicals/antibiotics/pesticides from as much of our food as possible. Ordering online gives us access to the organic foods (produce, dairy, meat, poultry, fruit, etc. ) that aren't present in our neighborhood.

2. Control over the budget. EH and I do our shopping every two weeks with a set budget of $150. We very rarely go over this amount and since it's a fixed amount it forces me to be smart about what we buy. There's something about seeing the total amount add up on the side of the page that keeps me on my best money behavior.

You know how all these healthy living guidelines suggest that you shop in the outer aisle of the supermarket to stay healthy? Well, the same goes for trying to save money. We mostly stay clear of the inner "aisles" which means not many boxed products. Most of our budget goes to buying enough organic/antibiotic free meat, poultry and fish to keep us stocked for two weeks. The rest goes to bags of beans, spaghetti, cans of tomato sauce, rice, milk, cereal, frozen vegetables and dairy.

The disadvantages of this kind of shopping is that we don't really get to take advantage of coupons like other money saving households. There are coupons on the web site but I found that they were usually for products we didn't buy anyway.

Other ways we save

1. Freeze it, baby! By far, the single most wonderful way I've found to save money on my groceries is by making use of my freezer. Because of my freezer I can now buy in bulk like never before. I now purchase two quarts of milk instead of one because I can store one in the freezer and thaw it when needed. At first I was afraid because I thought it wouldn't taste the same but if I take the milk down before the one we're using runs out it gives it ample time to melt. I give it a good shake and it's good to go.

I found this pin on pinterest about freezing everyday foods here and now I freeze things like shredded mozzarella cheese, beans, bread, soups and butter. More recently I discovered freezing avocados and it was life changing! Ok....maybe that's an exaggeration but I love making guacamole for a quick lunch and I would buy way too much only to have them spoil in my fridge. Now I can take advantage of an awesome avocado sale and freeze what I don't use.

2. Eating meat less. I've saved a bunch just by not eating meat/chicken everyday. Black bean burritos are now a staple in our house that we have at least once a week. I'd like to start making more vegetarian options as well, like vegetable pot pies, soups or spinach lasagna, but I'm still working on EH's belief that no meat = not a real dinner.

3. Order an appetizer. Not only are tons of food is wasted in this country everyday but portion sizes have gotten larger and larger. Have you seen what a small drink looks like at a fast food place lately? It's crazy. When EH and I go out for dinner, I'm always amazed at the plate when it comes to the table. Lately, when we do eat out I've been able to order from the appetizer menu and feel totally satisfied. Mostly, this is because my appetite hasn't been what it used to be since I started my PCOS medication but it's a great side effect for me because I tend to overeat.

4. Cook in bulk. Even though I've started to actually use my slow cooker I don't use it nearly enough. Truth is, I forget I have it when it comes time to make a meal. It really is a time saver and allows you to make so much. I've been mostly using my oven to make large pans of lasagna or soups on the stove top. I have a feeling I'll do more of this when children come along.

5. Give yourself a break. As much as we would like to be, humans aren't perfect. Cut yourself some slack if you swing by Mickey D's once a month or end up ordering a pizza, take-out Chinese or that delicious slice of cheesecake every once a while. We try to keep these bad treats to once every two months but if we falter we don't beat ourselves up. We get back on the horse. And you know what? Sometimes, I just really don't feel like cooking a thing and want to go out for chicken and waffles. That's OK too.


We still have some room to grow in this area. I still think we eat out way too much. Most of that is my doing because I forget to take things down from the freezer to the fridge so that they can thaw and be ready to make the next day.  Our biggest issue in the past was running out of food in the middle of the week because I didn't buy enough food to last us.. (I know... bad wife demerit there). I'm happy to say we haven't had that issue in months.

Monday, September 16, 2013

EH and I drove up to see a Perinatologist today which marks the end of our medical appointments for a while. I'm pretty happy about this because going to these appointments really takes it out of us. EH has to go into work late and, if it's a new place like it was today, we end up making some wrong turns.

Today, I generously donated 14 vials of blood to the doctor's office! This is by far the most I have ever done..

look at all the pretty colors and labels...
I got EH to take this photo while the lab tech was getting the first vial filled. This round of testing included a bunch of tests for blood clotting disorders and a chromosomal blood test for both of us. Our meeting with the perinatologist was a bit ho hum actually. He basically said that we're suffering from a case of "bad luck."

I was like, "I didn't drive all the way up here for you to tell us we have bad luck!" I was tight for a bit because medical professionals have a tendency to downplay your concerns in general and downplay the pain of loss, specifically. He mentioned that he had seen many patients with multiple miscarriages and that nine times out of 10 the issue is some kind of chromosomal abnormality.

I wish that gave me some comfort but it really doesn't. I really would rather point the finger at something concrete. Something we can fix. He repeatedly told us that he thought the tests would come back normal and that we just had to keep trying. If I hear "just keep trying" one more time, I think I'll scream!!

I have no doubt that DoctorDude has years of experience which make him an expert in these matters but what happened to "the customer is always right?" Run the damn tests and then take several seats!!

Side note: I love the Tamar & Vince show but I hate the way she's carrying on about being pregnant. For someone who was having issues getting pregnant in the first place, she sure is dismissive about the whole thing.

Hopefully, all the tests WILL come out normal but I can't say I'm mentally or emotionally prepared to play roulette a few more times until we get lucky.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A New Hue in the Bedroom

Ocean Air-Benjamin Moore-Dwellers without Decorators
EH and I finally got around to painting our bedroom this past weekend! Yayyy! We've only been living here for over a year so I'm glad we finally got on that! I wanted a calm blue bedroom color that seemed beach like. Our bathroom is a color called barely beige (Benjamin Moore) that looks like beach sand and we, meaning I, wanted the two spaces to be cohesive. You already know that our apartment is severely light challenged. In fact the only part of our place that gets good south facing, bright light is the bedroom. Too bad we only spend time in there when we're sleeping!

I knew that if we had to tape off and paint on the same day it would elicit crazy grumbling from EH so I taped off the trim the night before. It's generally easier to get EH to do things around the house if I do some of the leg work ahead of time.

Yes, there is a huge elliptical machine in our bedroom. No, neither of us use it regularly. I really want to sell it and use the money to make a lump sum payment on one of our debts but EH is against it. He keeps saying, "I'm gonna use it!" I use it once every few months when I don't want to go out for a run or when it's cold outside. It hasn't been used by him in about a year so.....

We put on some great inspirational music--the Frank Sinatra Station on Pandora--and got to work. After the second coat I went around the room touching up the areas where the paint and the molding didn't quite meet. I was actually on my tippy toes on the ladder for his shot because I am THAT short. I would show you some pics of EH doing the grunt work but he insisted on painting with his shirt off and I wanted to keep this post G-rated and nobody really wants to see EH's beer belly...right!??

As soon as the paint dried I ripped off the painters tape and put everything back in place so I could get a better idea of the color. We started and finished painting in bright sun and the color looked like a very soft powdery blue with a bit of aqua. A web site described it as the color of the sky on a sunny day at the beach and that comes pretty close. It was pretty gorgeous and very calming. I could smell the salt in the air.

Here's another view of a corner of the room. You can see the blue color a little more clearly next to the trim.

Here's a shot of the room in early evening sun. Later on, the color looked more like a deep aqua, which I didn't expect and am still getting used to. This is definitely a color swatch you want to put up on the wall in all types of light, and actually look at it, before committing. I'll need to warm it up with some gold or cream accessories. I think I'll eventually put a reading chair in one of the corners so that I can curl up there with my kindle or my journal from time to time. EH likes to do his schoolwork in the bedroom as well so it'll come in handy for him to have a chair in there.

I removed the art that was hanging over the bed. I relocated it to the bathroom because it seemed to fit in better there. The base color of the art is the same color as the wall in there so it blends right in.

You'll also notice that I'm using one of those plastic storage containers for my clothes until we purchase a new dresser for the both of us to share. That container holds all of my everyday clothes...shirts, stretchy pants, running clothes, underthings, EVERYTHING! This was a great illustration for me on being OK with living with less.

I use a chair as an end table on both sides of the bed. They belong to our dining room set so when we have company we just bring them out to join their friends. My side has a small lamp ($20 at Target last year), my thermometer for TTC and my cell phone/alarm. I keep my work out clothes hanging on the side of the chair so I have no excuse not to run in the morning. EH's side just has whatever clothes he's taken off that day. Keeping it simple doesn't give us a chance to create clutter.

So, on the bedroom to do list:

1. Paint bedroom a calm, happy blue
2. Purchase a comfy chair for the corner to make a reading nook/schoolwork area
3. Make DIY art for over the bed...something in blue, gold and cream undertones to warm up the room
4. Purchase good quality, real wood, dresser with mirror or get two mirrors at the thrift store to hang over dresser
5. Get real, linen-colored, proper length curtains and hang them at the right height!
6. Maybe some new, inexpensive, rugs for the sides of the bed that match
7. Purchase a basic polyester fill comforter, that can be covered with duvet covers, and donate old comforter

Wow, that is quite a list...didn't know I had all that on the brain but I'll keep you posted on the progress!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Baby M is Here!

I've been back and forth to the hospital for most of this week waiting for the arrival of my best friend's baby and he finally came into the world on 9/11/13. It is an auspicious day for us because it is the day that our friendship was truly solidified. After living together in the dorms at NYU for about a year, we both moved back home and became commuters. On 9/11/01 we were both, separately, on our way to classes when the twin towers were struck and collapsed. I can't adequately describe the chaos of that day or the fear we felt so I won't even try. I remember getting out of the subway that morning and being met by hordes of people running in my direction. When I finally figured out that I probably should be running too, I turned around and bumped right into my best friend. If that wasn't God, I don't know what was.

We sat together and calmly figured out what we wanted to do. The fact that we had both grown up in very violent homes probably served as a kind of protection for us. I don't remember us crying at all that day. Children who suffer the kinds of trauma that we had have an uncanny way of being calm in crazy situations. We couldn't reach our families for hours and didn't know if we ever would. Eventually we decided to take our chances and walked over seven miles uptown until we could be picked up by a family member.

We've been through so much together, there was no way I was missing the birth of my "nephew."

Unfortunately, I wasn't there for the actual birth because of hospital regulations on how many people could be in the room, but I was there the whole day before and the whole day after.

I sat with her on the bed during contractions kneading her back with my fists until they passed. It was hard seeing her in pain but I knew it was much more manageable than the period pain she had back in college. These contractions were child's play compared to those! I was so proud of how she kept it together. She really only freaked out when she got an epidural and was convinced that her back was swelling up. It totally wasn't but I still checked three times just to reassure her.

EH was very wary about me participating in the whole experience; worried that I might not be able to handle it and that he would get the brunt of the fallout. I wish I could say that I kept it cool the whole time but that would be a lie. What I was able to do was excuse myself when it got to be too much for me, which was maybe once or twice. I think what got to me the most was that she didn't seem as happy as I thought she would be. Now, this was probably because she hadn't really slept in three days and was feeling pretty overwhelmed by all the people coming in and out and by the fact that she was now someone's mother, literally, overnight. This is yet another negative drawback of dealing with infertility; that sneaking suspicion that if you were given the chance you could do it better.

And, of course, I couldn't help but think of EH and I's own struggle to bring a child into the world. How much time has passed on this journey and how much time is still left to go. Despite how broken I was feeling, I knew I would regret it if I wasn't a part of this.

Happy Birthday, Baby M! Welcome to the World :-)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Simple Living 101: Part 3-Simplicity in the Home

blue + gold accents
Pinterest: Katie Rosenfeld Design
If there's one area in the simplicity lifestyle where I could possibly get carried away it's in my home. I always said that when I had my own space it would be everything I wanted it to be. I believe that the home is a refuge from the world. I'm not flashy, I would never buy anything as grand as the pieces in the picture above, but I do like the simplicity and the color scheme. Most of all I like a home that feels warm and comforting.

My first space was a one bedroom in a two bedroom apartment. I didn't really get along with my roommate so I spent most of my time in my bedroom. I painted it a very bright orange and packed it full of posters and art. I was happy as a duck in water.

When EH and I moved in together it was to an illegal basement apartment in a residential area. We were young, broke and naive with bad credit. We immediately fell in love with the possibilities of the place because we had no other choice. In reality it was a crappy place to live. It was dark and tiny and water came up through our living room floor every time it rained....because there was a drain in the middle of our living room floor. Ha!! Thinking about it now makes me laugh.

The year we spent in what we lovingly now refer to as our "hole" was rough. We fought all the time because we were so unhappy and we weren't even married yet! We like to think that God was testing our bond and we prevailed.

Our second apartment was much better compared to the "hole". It was a fifth floor walk up in an OK area. We prize being in a safe neighborhood over anything else and we lucked out. We had a great apartment and a great landlord but not so great neighbors. 6 out of 7 mornings we were woken up by the smell of marijuana from our downstairs neighbors and it was more than a little disturbing for someone who doesn't smoke, cigarettes or otherwise, to wake up high. This was around the time that we started thinking seriously about having children and we didn't want a baby in that environment.

Our current apartment is on the first floor in a great neighborhood. We don't have the greatest views. Our living room, kitchen and bathroom look out onto an inner courtyard that's frequently littered with old, broken furniture. Our bedroom window looks out onto the garbage area. It's not our dream apartment but we're grateful (a) that we have somewhere to live and (b) that we're not having to sell our kidneys to live here.

A couple of hanging plants in the window make everything a little more bearable...

Needless to say, living this way has made watching House Hunters a lot less fun. I frequently find myself cringing when I hear someone say they "need more space to entertain" or are "too close to the neighbors"
The fact is, unless you have a family as large as the Duggars, you could probably do really well right where you are and I like being in a neighborhood where someone can hear me scream for help, if it comes to that. Ha!

Home Decorating

My new Simple Living lifestyle took the biggest hit in the home decorating area because it is my weakness. Here's what I've changed in this area.

1. I don't buy decor items for my home (kitchen items, bathroom items, frames, lamps, pillow cushions, etc.) that are over $20. $20 is a hard limit and I can usually get what I need within that price range by shopping at Marshalls, Home Goods or TJ Maxx.

2. Just like with clothing, I think about an item, and analyze my need for the item, before I buy it. Most of the time I don't need it.

3. I make my own art. I love decorating my walls but I don't have the money to buy expensive pieces of art. Learning how to make my own art, through trial and error, has helped out a lot in this area. If I see a painting online that I love, I paint it in colors that suit my home. It's cheap and easy.  I frame 'em, I put 'em up and gain extra satisfaction from knowing that I did so without shelling out the big bucks.

There's also great art to be found in postcards which can be added to a gallery wall or placed alone in any area in the home. I came across these postcards, which cost me about $1 each, in a bookstore. One I hung above my desk and one in the bathroom in frames that I already owned. I painted the frames with leftover wall paint.

Here's another one I found to hang over Josh's food area, because God forbid he should be left out. All you pet mommies know what I mean.

4. I DIY before I think about buying something new. I've recently decided to change up the color scheme of my living room. I want it to be warmer than it is. I really want to repaint my living room's gray walls to a warm beige but I'm not sure when that will happen since we've prioritized painting the bedroom. I want to add in some gold and light blue accents but I can't buy anything new right now. I've decided to just spray paint my wall frames instead. I'll get a fresh look for the cost of a can of spray paint (approx. $5).

Other things I've DIY'ed include: painting my bookcase with leftover paint and adding wallpaper in the background, painting cheap flower pots for my hanging plants, framing a cheap scarf as art. Sometimes you don't even need a frame.

The frame I bought for this poster, that we picked up on our trip to the museum this year, recently fell apart so I've put it back up with green frog tape which pops against our yellow walls in the entryway.

This clipboard worked very nicely to display one of my practice art pieces.

5. I practice the One In, One Out rule. I've already written about my excessive amount of sheets and how I did away with a few of them. But I know that someday soon I'm gonna want some new sheets! So, when that day comes I will wash and donate one of my old comforters/sheet sets. I find that I get tired of my bedding more when they have too much color on them (flowers, stripes). Neutral sheets/comforters make it easier for me to change up my style with a throw or a pillow instead of buying all new sheets. I'm working toward getting a poly-filled comforter and just investing in duvet covers instead.

This rule doesn't just work for sheets, so try it out on everything. If you buy something new, donate something old, provided it's in good condition. You'll feel better about buying something new and hopefully be helping out someone else in the process.

6. When I get off course,  I course correct. I purchased throw pillows for my couch recently that I thought I would love but after living with them for a while, they totally gross me out. Instead of throwing them out and getting new ones, which I would have done in the past, I'll just recover them with new pillow covers. This was a time when I made the mistake of buying throw pillows that don't have zip off covers. If you love to change things up as much as I do, buy pillows that have zip off covers! They can be washed and replaced seasonally and are much cheaper than buying a whole new pillow.

Similarly, if you buy things that don't fit with how you're trying to live, don't beat yourself up. I did that a lot in the beginning (and still do from time to time) but over time I've been able to course correct and get back on track.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Simple Living 101: Part 2-Money Management

Part 2 of what I've learned from Simple Living so far...

Pare Down and Cut it Up


Today, I only have one (usable) credit card. EH and I had two credit cards each and decided to cut up one each. They both still have balances on them but at least we won't be tempted to use them because they're simply no longer available.

Some debt control web sites/books suggest that you freeze your credit card but I knew I would be blow drying that frozen credit card every month to buy something I didn't need. So, if it's possible for you, cut that bad boy up and throw it away.

Out of sight, out of debt, hopefully.

If It's Broke, Fix It
EH and I used to have banking accounts with two different banks. One account we opened when we first moved in together. We discovered after a couple of years that it wasn't working for us. We didn't have access to our account online and the customer service was atrocious. So, we eventually took our money to a different bank but, for some reason, we kept the old account open. This past week, I finally closed  it and what a relief it was!! If something isn't working for you, whether it's a bank account or other type of financial account, don't be afraid to change it. What you gain in peace of mind is far more than any anxiety you might feel.

 Spender vs Saver

There's nothing that can drive a nail into simple living like a spouse who's not on board. I've always liked having my own money so right from the jump I knew that when EH and I got married we would have a joint account but maintain separate accounts. Another part of that decision stemmed from how different our thinking is when it comes to managing money.

EH comes from a family that was just getting by for most of his childhood. His father supported the family by driving a cab and his mom worked on and off while raising he and his brother and sister. He never went without the basics but he definitely didn't have many extras. When his parents needed extras, they bought it on credit, and struggled to make debt payments. His financial motto is: It's just money; I can make more.

My mother made her living as a nurse and most of the extra money in our household went to buying things that would make us appear to be the perfect family. New clothes, new purses; a new pair of shoes, hair, nails, etc. I hated it and rebelled against it. My financial motto became: Money is precious and spending on more than the basics isn't necessary. It wasn't until I moved out of the house that my spending habits became unmanageable. During that time I felt a tremendous amount of guilt about being in debt and spending money on myself.

I'm stingy with money and EH is extravagant with it. How do these different financial styles co-exist?

Over the years, we've rubbed off on each other. I've begun to let go of the purse strings a little and he's been able to say, maybe we don't really need this after all. Communication is key when you have a spouse that doesn't have the same ideas about money management. Both spouses need to have a say in how the money is spent. You can't get out of debt if one person is spending money you don't know about. I say this out of experience.

I used to think that EH should handle the bill paying because he was bringing home the money. Looking back I can see that my thinking was based more on my own insecurity over not working than anything else. Having EH handle the money didn't work out well and like some men all men it was difficult for him to talk about it. After a few fights, he finally admitted that he was overwhelmed and stressed about making the money and managing it too.

Since I'm not working at the moment, EH has his check deposited into his personal account and then he and I will sit down with our budget (made in Excel and posted on Google docs so we both have access to it). I go through the rows one by one and he transfers what needs to be paid for that pay period into our joint account. We've configured all of our recurring bills (utilities, credit cards, student loans) to pull from that account. Whatever is left over can be used as spending money. This was important because in the past we would have spending money and bill paying money in the same account and find out later that a certain bill didn't clear when we thought it would which would lead to spending money that wasn't there to be spent. Having money for bills come out of one account means we can leave that account alone until all bills are paid. Our new method allows us to spend away knowing that when the spending money runs out, the fun is over.

Our biggest expenses each month are from our combined student loan debt (approx $80,000 and counting in total) We've come to terms with the fact that unless we hit the lottery, which we don't play, or money falls into our laps from the sky, we'll be paying on these loans until we kick it. What we're really concerned about is getting rid of our credit card debt. We've paid off credit card debt in the past...twice!! and somehow one or both of us will start using the card again for an "emergency" and then we're back in the hole. It's a slippery slope. The goal is to have just one credit card to be shared by the both of us.

This part of my simple living lifestyle is still a work in progress but I have faith that we'll get there. The money I'm saving in other areas of our lives is being used to decrease our debt. Now, I try to question every purchase and if EH can convince me it's necessary, we'll usually get it. It works the other way too. If I can convince him that we can do without it, it stays in the store.

Next Up: Part 3: Improvements in the Home

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Simple Living 101: Part 1

 Furniture: 1. replace old items with multi-use items 2. get rid of items not needed (ie once excess contents removed- get rid of the vessel!)
I am by no means an expert on minimalism or simple living but I've been living simply for a while now and I am in love with my new lifestyle. No matter what you call it (simple living, minimalism, living within your means) paring down your life has an infinite number of benefits. More time to spend with the ones you love, more money in your pocket than can be spent on experiences instead of things, clarity of mind, just to name a few.

It's not an easy road in the beginning. I had some preconceived notions about what simple living was; I pictured almost empty living spaces devoid of warmth, penny pinching to the point of exhaustion. I soon realized that it isn't a one size fits all thing and it looks different for different people.You might want to run kicking and screaming from this new lifestyle after a few months but I've learned that sticking with it has remade me in a lot of ways. I'll be sharing how we've changed as a family in a few posts over the next few weeks.

Here's how:
 Moving tip...put a large trashbag around the bottom of the clothes and they stay together and you just hang them in your new closet
Decreased Materialism

I used to be the girl who couldn't go into a Target or a Marshalls, or any department store for that matter, without buying something. I always found a way to buy another set of place mats, pot holders, scented candles, sheet sets, pillows, manufactured art, get the picture. I almost always disregarded the fact that I didn't have the money to buy these things. This was partly due to my own lack of self-control and partly due to the messages I received every day, from commercials, television shows, friends, that somehow what I already had was not enough.

If I was feeling sad or lonely or angry, I shopped and more often than not, I shopped on credit. Now, I can spend hours in a store and leave with nothing. I wish I could say it was because I didn't want anything but I'd be lying. What's changed is my thought process. I've started to think about what I already have before I buy anything new. Just this small act of thinking before I buy has decreased my need for the instant gratification that comes with buying. The chain goes something like this:  

How much is this? Can I afford it? The first question is easy to answer, the second...not so much.

Do I have something like this in my closet/home already?
Is it in a color that actually flatters me/my home?

I don't know about you but I'm guilty of buying things that look great in the store but not so much on me or, if it's a household item, clashes with things I already have.

Is this something that I'm going to wear/use often?

This is important because I tend to be a special occasion shopper. If I had an event to go to, I needed a new outfit. If I was expecting company over for dinner, I suddenly needed new throw pillows, curtains, bed linen. When I cleared out my closet a few months ago I was shocked at the amount of clothing there that I wore only once or twice and when I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me, I was able to accept that friends were coming to see us and not our home.

Can I pair it well with something I already have/Is there something in my home just like it?

I've got an addiction to Cardigans. I've got a bunch of them but I noticed that the cardigans I've bought that have patterns on them don't get worn that often because it's hard to pair them with other clothing if it isn't an exact match. So, I've decided to donate the patterned ones and keep the solid colored ones, which are much more versatile. If you still miss pattern, add it with a scarf. They come in so many different colors and patterns and are much cheaper.

On a recent cleaning spree, I realized that I had three vases....three vases for a woman who doesn't buy flowers more than once a year. I clearly didn't need three so I donated two of them. I also had way too many sheet sets and comforters, so I pared those down as well.

If the answer to more than one of these questions is Yes, then I can feel good about taking an item home. If the answer is no, it stays in the store.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Improved Finances

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Labor Days

EH and I didn't celebrate this past Labor Day as we would have liked. I had visions of myself getting much browner on the sand at Rockaway Beach but instead we got a downpour that took up all of any quality beach time we were trying to have. As a consolation prize we went outside the city to a mall in Yonkers, saw the new Woody Allen film, Blue Jasmine, and then had some food at the Cheesecake Factory. It was a pretty relaxing day. We're hoping we can still go to the beach this upcoming weekend since the weather is still somewhat nice in NYC. I've been longing for a tropical vacation for about two years now. I'm holding out hope that we can end up in the Caribbean with our next pregnancy. Maybe drinking virgin Pina Coladas on a beach in Puerto Rico will make it all seem real.


I visited with an Endocrinologist in the city last week. It went pretty well and it looks like we're going to be working together to get my thyroid levels back under control. Today, we interviewed a prospective Ob/Gyn for our next pregnancy and of course she's pregnant....with TWINS! It turns out SuperDoc was the one who knocked her up. Go figure. We really liked this Ob/Gyn, pregnancy notwithstanding, but she'll be out on maternity leave in October and won't be back until January, so we'll have to work with one of her colleagues until she's back. EH thinks it's worth it because at least we won't have the Ob/Gyn Inc. experience again. This office is much smaller and seems much more amenable to the kind of care that we want. The office is willing to let us have ultrasounds/heart beat monitoring every two weeks instead of every month and we're pretty confident that she's going to work closely with the perinatologist to make sure we're as successful as we can be. As a bonus, it's located in a little house on the grounds of the hospital where I had my myomectomy so we won't have to go far when we deliver. EH and I were laying in bed last night about to go to sleep when he said, "All of this makes me feel so old." I sighed because I finally felt like he got a small part of what I've been feeling for three years. At times I feel like my hopes and dreams are in an hourglass and I'm being forced to watch the sand run out. The whole process is very "hurry up and wait" with more waiting than hurrying. If I could pinpoint the hardest part of all of this it would definitely be the waiting.


My best friend had some pre-term contractions this week and I went to the hospital ready to support her yesterday just in case it was labor time. I woke up feeling such weird, amorphous emotions. I was anxious and excited at the same time. There was a large part of me that was so, so happy that my best friend was going to be a mom soon and that I might get to be there when it happened. And there was another large part of me that was just incredibly sad. Both sides were at war with each other and I hope it didn't show too much on my face...there was a lot of grimace, smile, grimace, smile, happening in the cab on the way to the hospital. Thankfully, once I got to the hospital I was able to set all that aside and be there for her; fully present and not thinking about myself. I think I've also just learned to shut off my emotions a little from having worked in a hospital environment during my internship. You learn how to shut fear and anxiety down  pretty fast when you're walking into a room to see a person who just lost their breasts to cancer. I don't reflect on those times as much as I should. I think I would be kinder to myself if i did. 

It turns out it wasn't time just yet but I'm on call for the next two weeks. Eeeeek! I can't wait to meet and hold him. I've been road dogs with his mom for so long that I really feel like he's mine too. He's all of my babies that I never got to meet and hold. While I was visiting, she shared with me that she had a baby shower. I asked why I wasn't invited very indignantly but then I finally admitted that I probably wouldn't have gone. It turns out that her sister knew about our loss and thought it best not to put me through all that. God bless her because if she had asked I wouldn't have had the heart to say no. She's now determined that I should have a baby shower. I told her we could have one in the OR when my baby's out of the incision.


EH and I are finally going to paint our bedroom!! Oh Happy Day!!! I originally wanted to paint it a color called Quiet Moments but when I saw the paint swatch in the store it looked a little too green. Note to self: a color on the computer is not the same color on the swatch card! I should write this in lines on a chalkboard somewhere because I always choose the color on the computer and then go to the store when it should totally be the other way around. We, and by we I mean I, settled on a color called Ocean Air, in the second to last column below.

Benjamin Moore
We tried Gossamer Blue, which is on the same swatch, first but I found it to be a little too dark since our bedroom doesn't get as much light as I'd like. Here it is below the Gossamer Blue in our bedroom. I'm realizing more and more than I'm a "neutral with a little bit of color" kind of gal. This picture, obviously, doesn't show the true color. It really does look like a beautiful light ocean blue. I think we have a winner!! Unless I change my mind.....