Let Us Talk About the Joys of Potty Training.

We have all heard about the delightful phenomenon that is mom amnesia, right? Like how nobody remembers the pain of childbirth? (I won’t because epidurals are a wonderful thing.) How we should “enjoy every moment” because the people saying this apparently don’t remember tantrums in the grocery store and the total meltdowns upon hearing the word no? How all kids have been sleeping through the night since 6 weeks old? How nobody has ever raised a picky eater until you?

Here’s another one: potting training lies. Y’all. I feel like everyone has a story about how “my grandma potty trained all 6 of her kids by 18 months.” Or “my mom said it was a piece of cake and I never had an accident.” What do you even do with those statements?? Say congratulations? Vow to have all your kids in undies and dry through the night by age two?

Have no fear. I’m hot off the potty training press and here to set the record straight.

POTTY TRAINING SUCKS. I don’t care if you potty trained your kids in 48 hours or 48 months, you are lying if you say you enjoyed it!! I also don’t care if your kid was 16 months or 4 and a half- either way, don’t act like it wasn’t exhausting to watch them like a hawk every waking moment to make sure they didn’t pee on an ottoman. Or rug. Or anywhere but the toilet, actually. Or act like you haven’t shoveled poop off your dining room floor.  I mean at this point, we’re on day three and have had zero accidents and my 3.5 year old has told me every time he has to go. We’re technically done, right? Hand me my bragging rights.

But because mom amnesia hasn’t hit yet, I can tell you that the last 3 days have been ridiculous. The first day you can just expect them to pee everywhere (and if they are a boy this includes even when they’re sitting on the toilet. Everywhere.) The second day you should expect them to stay mostly dry, but throw a rager of a tantrum every single one of the 47 times you put them on the john. The third day is a toss up, but I think someone exorcised my child in the middle of the night and that was the key to our success today. It also could have been the fact that I let him have a handful of skittles every time for peeing on the potty versus just one lousy one.

I mean,  I don’t take my salvation lightly and I don’t want to sound irreverent…but if I wasn’t covered by Jesus’ grace and God gave me the option of A. burning  B. living in a pop up camper or C. potty training a kid for eternity, take me to the flames. Every time. I’d like to believe that Revelation 21:4 says “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain or potty training.” Too much?

I downloaded a great potty training book at the recommendation of a friend (it’s like a $2.99 kindle download. So worth it. I will recommend it to everyone.), and the author is actually a professional potty trainer. First of all, THAT’S A THING!? That, my friends, is a thing. And upon further research, I learned this professional will do a consultation for $75 dollars an hour. $75. Per hour. And she’ll potty train your kid for $55 dollars an hour. $55. DOLLARS. AN. HOUR. Who would pay someone that much to potty train their kid!?!? ME. That’s who. Knowing what I know now I would have added “cash for potty training” to my baby shower wish list and if that didn’t cover it I’d take funds from my retirement savings. (Sidebar: Why do people still even get college degrees? Apparently you can just learn a skill nobody likes to do, call yourself a professional toe-nail clipper, and charge an exorbitant amount of money for it. I digress.)

To summarize, potty training is the worst. Don’t let anybody to tell you it’s easy or enjoyable, and if they do, watch them run when you offer to let them potty train your kid. And as they are sprinting off into the distance you just yell to them “EXACTLY!!”

The end of meal planning!

Today is for you if you love the idea of gifting yourself with something fun in order to follow through with a plan. I KNOW IT’S NOT JUST ME because I see those Fabletic leggings you bought last January when you told yourself you were gonna work out everyday! No shame in that game. After all, it’s almost time to bust them out again (versus bust out of them again…semantics are important)!

When I first became a Noonday Ambassador, I basically joined a tribe of women who are way trendier and cooler than me and hip to all the fun brands and products out there.  Punjammies, bullet journaling (only google this if you’re ready for your brain to explode), magnetic eyelashes, the Instant Pot, eShakti, Pact Apparel, Norwex, Elegantees, Beautycounter, The Root Collective…I could go on. And I will. Another such brand is May Designs! Although I wish they were paying me to rave about them, they aren’t. Probably because they’ve been listed as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things and don’t necessarily care about my 17 blog views a week or want to be mocked by my father in law. Not that he’ll admit to reading this 😉 ANYWAY, if you know me at all, when I find something I love I can’t help but tell people to buy it. One of my personality descriptors is “the Promoter” so it’s out of my control, okay?

When I was trying to figure out a way to organize my meal planning stuff, and STAY organized, I knew a May Designs notebook was the answer. They are simple but still get the job done. They are super eco-friendly with a soft canvas cover made from recycled materials, the binding is stitched with thread so they are basically indestructible AND fully recycleable. And the best part: there are thousands of ways to customize your own. Choose from hundreds of cover designs, choose your own monogram or journal name, pick from 3 different sizes, and choose from a ton of layouts.

For this notebook I chose the classic size because it’s just right for my purse. As you can see, a toddler scribbled on the cover before I even wrote a letter in it, so use your imagination to envision how beautifully the cover started out. I am such a sucker for watercolor florals! I chose what’s called the “2018 Blush Agenda: Months + Dots.” The first few pages contain a 12 month calendar, followed by 55 pages of a simple dot grid. I know, a dot grid seems weird, but I pretty much want all of my notebooks to be dot grids now, thanks to a simple ‘bullet journal’ search on Pinterest. (I’m telling you, kiss an hour of your day goodbye if you choose to look it up right now.)

So here’s my calendar. I’ve decided I’m only going to fill in 3 months at a time here, even though I have my whole year mapped out on a printable calendar. Since there will be times we eat out or have dinner with friends and family, I’ll be able to adjust accordingly and keep a better handle on what’s still in my freezer whenever it’s time to stock up on sales again.

I decided I wanted to give my meal lists a perma-spot in the notebook so I can easily keep track of what we’ve eaten and, again, know what’s left in my freezer come November if we’ve only had honey sesame chicken two times. <- Nerdy, I know.

These pages are where the magic happens! Now you’ll know why I love the dot grid. I drew my own layout so that I can keep track of what I’ve bought each quarter and how much I’ll need to stock up on the next time something’s on sale. I also wrote down what I know is full price for things and have written down what I’ve seen for sale prices. It’s a perfect reference point if I’m scoping out flyers or if I’m in the store. There are also a few items I’ll be stocking up on that didn’t make the notebook cut. If you must know, it’s things like taco seasoning packets, okay? Cheap enough for me to not worry about if they’ll go on sale and therefore not take up my brain space.

The other side of this layout shows how I’m breaking down my budget by quarter. Each week I’ll write down what I’ve spent on groceries, what I’ve got left in the balance, and what that means for my weekly budget in order to stay on track for the year. I’m also doing it this way so that if I’m under budget one quarter I can transfer it to the next. Or pocket the difference and buy myself something fun 😉 Despite the insane amount of nerding out on the budget I’ve been doing here on the sassy side, I’m really what Dave Ramsey would call a free spirit, if ya couldn’t tell. The budgeting here is just a means to an end….

These pages are pretty self-explanatory. I wanted a page to keep track of new meals I want to add to the rotation and a place to keep track of extras I end up with in the freezer.

And finally, the rest of the notebook is where I’ll be making my grocery shopping list each week.

You guys. I’m into my second month doing this and I am really loving it. It takes 5 minutes to make a grocery list each week. 5 minutes!! I don’t have to wrack my brain for recipes, I’m not trying to remember what we haven’t had in a while and what we’ve had last week, I’m not getting sucked into Pinterest trying to find something new that may or may not fail. The grocery shopping itself is WAY faster. My list is shorter and I’m not trying to keep my kids entertained while I try to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. When someone asks me what’s for dinner, I KNOW THE ANSWER! And if I don’t feel like cooking it that night, I pick something easier from another day of the week. It’s made evenings less stressful and cooking more enjoyable because when dinner time comes around, I’m not exasperated that we don’t have anything in the cupboards I feel like throwing together or that I’m missing a key ingredient for something I planned on. IT’S THE BOMB.

If you aren’t ready to give yearly meal planning a try yet, what’s holding you back!?

The part about budgeting.

Who’s sick of hearing about all this meal planning crap!? ME. I promise at some point I’ll go back to talking about way cooler things. ->Insert all kinds of internal thoughts like “what are cool people even talking about these days?” and “I guess now that I’ve said that I will actually have to come up with topics of discussion that are considered cool.” and “It’s only a matter of time before my three readers are ready to move on with their lives.”<- #bloggerlife

Okay so nerd alert, today is all about budgeting. Am I a budgeting expert? No. Can I set up a food budget? Kind of. Can I stick to said budget? That’s a firm no. BUT I feel like in theory, all of these things will work for the average person who has a little bit more self-control and self-discipline than I do. Spoiler alert: that’s all of you reading this.

If you’re expecting me to tell you exactly how much feeding your family of 5 should cost per week, I hate to break it to ya but I’m not your girl. I really don’t even know how much it costs to feed my family of 4 because one week my kids could eat 3 rotisserie chickens and 12lbs of grapes a day, and the next week survive on 3 goldfish crackers. One of the reasons I’m doing this is so I can figure out a realistic number for us, so for the sake of this example I’m just going to go with an arbitrary $100 a week. Math is hard and that just seems like a good number. Another disclaimer here is that this has the potential to sound wayyy more complicated than it is, so if your brain hurts reading this, I give you permission to just go eat some ice cream.

Just like we’re looking at a year-long view of meals, I’m looking at a year-long view of the budget.  So come January 2018, I’m starting off with a (hypothetical) budget of $5200 for groceries.  STOP FREAKING OUT  and wait for the explanation. Obviously (or maybe not obviously? I don’t know) I don’t plan on having $5200 in my pocket to spend on food come January. And if I did, I wouldn’t spend it all right away. If you do have all your grocery money for the year set aside, you are winning at life and I need to quit this blog and start doing what you’re doing.

Now I will say that in this house we love us some Dave Ramsey but we also love our Discover card. For the most part, we put all of our monthly expenses on it and pay it off each month. Dave will argue that no one ever made millions on cashback bonuses, but we did use all that free money for our Christmas shopping last year, so ya know what Dave? WORTH IT. I’m NOT advocating racking up debt with your grocery bill, but it does give us some flexibility for stocking up. Like anything else, you’re investing a little more up front but saving in the long run.

If we didn’t have a ton of flexibility in our grocery bill, here’s what I’d do. Since we’re heading into the holiday season it’s a terrible time to suggest this, but I would take a couple months and eat as CHEAP as possible. Beans and rice, mac and cheese, do what you gotta do to give yourself a little bit of room to skim off the top of your grocery budget, and then SAVE IT. If you’re me, you’ll need someone to physically hide the extra cash from you or it will mysteriously disappear into the abyss of Target or Amazon prime. Start putting a little bit aside from anywhere in your budget so that the next time you see ground beef on sale (eye roll at myself right now) you’ll have the cash to stock up.

The other thing I’ve noticed from watching the sale flyers recently is this. (Sidebar: I live in rural northern Maine and we have like 4 grocery stores to choose from…no Aldi or Costco…sigh…) One week chicken breasts were on sale at Graves’, the next week they were on sale at either Save-a-Lot or Steaks ‘n Stuff (can’t remember for sure), and the following week they were on sale at IGA. So if you’re not loyal to any one store, I would stock up over the course of 3-4 weeks at different stores versus stocking up all at once at just one store. Then it would be a little gentler on your weekly budget, and you’re still saving a few bucks. Make sense?

Also, try planning just for a week or two. You WILL spend less money if you have an actual plan and don’t go floundering into the grocery store while you’re starving only to realize all you left with was a cucumber and 3 bags of chips to get you through dinner the whole week. I guarantee if you’re starting from scratch and make a basic plan and go into the store with a list, you’ll find money you didn’t know you had. (You could also take that approach literally and start checking last year’s winter coat pockets for that $20 you forgot about.)

Now, back to the actual managing of the money and the math crap. Deep breath.

So let’s say your budget for the year is $5200 — $100 a week. Spend $100 bucks the first week? Great. Your budget is still $100 bucks a week. But let’s say the second week you stock up on chicken for a few months and spend $200. And the next week you hit up a beef sale and spend another $200. Altogether you’ve spent $500 in 3 weeks and you now have $4,700 left in your year-long budget. With 49 weeks left in the year, your new budget is about $95 a week. It seems like you’ve gone over your weekly budget, but long- term you’re still in great shape. Okay? Go eat the ice cream now. Eventually as you keep stocking up, your weekly budget is going to go down. But that’s okay, because you will have a ton of things that you won’t need to worry about buying anymore!

Next time we talk I’m going to give you a little tour of my fun little May Designs notebook and how easy it is to organize this with a simple little calendar and a few notebook pages. After that, we are D-U-N DUN! If you have questions, feel free to get in touch! But I feel like if I give any more details about my thought process you will be too frightened to give yearly meal planning a try. At some point you just gotta jump outta the nest and figure out the kinks as you go!

Signed,

Type B, ESTP, 8w7.