Thursday, August 28, 2008

Greener? Yes! Richer? Not Exactly...

As mentioned, our dishwasher up and crapped out on us on Monday. My impulse-purchasing husband arrived home Monday night with a receipt from Lowe's and the news that a new dishwasher (picked out to match our relatively new refrigerator) would be arriving this week.
So, while it was certainly an unexpected purchase, I am happy to report our new dishwasher is relatively energy efficient (according to the little yellow Energy Guide) and will most certainly be more efficient than the old one. So in the long run, maybe it will make us richer...
No ideas on how this bad boy can make me thinner though...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Crazy Coupon Lady, Part II

I didn't really make a goal this week. I can tell you I initially thought of stepping up my running a notch or two, but then it was raining this morning and I lost my motivation. Then, while I was contemplating just working on my old goals, my dishwasher promptly crashed and burned. Which means hand-washing until we figure out what's wrong with it or the end of time, whichever comes first. Already I've probably used 354 gallons of hot water, and its only lunchtime.

However, I am continuing on my crusade to save money by playing the CVS game and couponing. I have no personal goal this week that is going to make me skinny, earthy or rich, but I thought I would share my "score" at CVS this week. I'm actually not 100% convinced it was a score, but I am starting to see how the "CVS game" can work for me, too...
First, the loot:

Next, the tally:
  • (2) Red Zone Deodorant (CVS special, coupon)

  • (1) Huggies 52ct package (CVS special, coupon)

  • (1) 24ct Swiffer wet (CVS special)

  • (1) 2 pack Optifree contact solution (CVS special, coupon, earned ECB)

  • (2) 24ct Crayola crayon packs (buy one get one free!)

  • (2) Colgate toothpastes (coupon, CVS buy one get one free!)

  • (2) 24ct packs CVS brand batteries (buy one get one free!)

  • (1) 18ct box Playtex tampons (CVS special, coupon, earned ECB)

  • (1) Gillette body wash (coupon)

  • (1) Mesh body puff

So--overall I spent $72.32 and I saved $34.15. I earned $6 in ECBs and my quarterly "rewards" (which I can will get after Oct 1st) is at $21. With the exception of the manly mesh body sponge (requested by my husband) I either had a coupon, got the item on sale, or earned ECB's. The best deal was definitely the diapers--I basically saved $5 on them. The Crayons will be great as stocking stuffers or a small gift for one of the 547 children I know, and everything else falls in the category of things-we-use-regularly. I think having a stockpile in the closets is going to be nice...

I should also point out that after CVSing I hit the grocery store...and only spent $42! I garuntee you that I will need to go again at some point this week for things like milk and bread, but from stocking up the last couple weeks I really only needed to get things for dinner and fresh foods. Not too shabby.

And, before anyone gets their panties in a wad, I am quite aware that a number of my CVS purchases are decidedly not green...particularly the diapers and the Swiffer cleaning cloths. I do try to reserve the use of the Swiffer to days I'm pinched for time, or for quick clean-ups that don't require mixing a whole bucket of mop water. As for the friends Julie and Jenny braved the cloth diaper waters and there are now two less babies in the world contributing their shit into our landfills. Um, I'm living vicariously through them?

Until next time...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Failing Miserably, Part II

Okay so maybe I need to change the focus of this blog. Instead of it being all about how I'm changing my life, one small step at a time, maybe it should be about how I'm totally NOT doing this, despite good efforts. Hey, at least that's funnier right?

Don't get me wrong, I'm still on the quest to be a size 4, living in a house with solar panels paid for by my oh-so-witty and endearing blog, which is full of fantastic photographs (of which we have none right now due to my recently purchased camera being sent back. Oh and did I mention my son is thisclose to taking his first steps and my camera--and only means of video--is still en route to Connecticut. Yeah.)

Anyhow, yesterday was my day to go to CVS, and since I have to go a little bit out of my realm to get there, I decided to go grocery shopping at the Giant grocery store that was in the same plaza. And while I was there I was going to hit the Dollar Tree because it was conveniently located in between CVS and Giant. That was my first mistake. Read below for more...

Mistakes Made in the Interest of Trying to be A Frugal, Coupon-Clipping Mom
1. There was no reason for me to go to the Dollar Tree. There was nothing there I needed, and I was immediately overwhelmed by all the cheap cheap cheap merchandise and bright colors. I was also overwhelmed by how many people were like, hanging out there. Just standing in the aisles talking and not moving aside when it was clear that I needed to get by. And then I got accosted by the Strange-Man-Who-Won't-Stop-Talking-To-You. You know him. He's usually found at bars (and apparently Dollar Tree) and strikes up a boring, endless conversation about something he thinks he has in common with you. And while he blabs (in this case) on and on about his 20 month old granddaughter and the perils of being so tall (he was at least 8 feet) I smiled and nodded and prayed that he'd go away. He didn't, so I snatched 2 little books for G3 and a pack of sponges and got in line. Money spent: $3 and change.
2. But before Dollar Tree, I went into CVS with a purpose. I had a list--all for things that were either on sale at CVS and I had a coupon for, or free. As in, my "Free CVS-Brand Ibuprofen". Of course, I couldn't find it, and as I was checking my coupon again to make sure that's what it was for, I noticed it was expired anyhow. Great. I did manage to score some Puffs tissues for about 0.60 cents each, so I guess that was a success. I got 3 boxes of tissues, a pack of batteries, and two Gerber graduate products for $13.00. But I earned no extra bucks. And I practically needed a bicep replacement after carrying my 21# child around for 20 minutes. (Side note: teach kid to walk before next CVS trip! But not before camera is repaired and returned.)
3. Finally, to Giant. Since I usually shop at my rinky-dink IGA (it's close, friendly, and decently priced, even though the selection is a bit limited) I was immediately entranced by rows upon rows of gorgeous produce, meat and cheese selections fit for a king, and the biggest wall of bread I've ever seen. I was shocked, however, at how much more expensive this store was. I will confess now that I went in for:
Items to make bean salad for a party
Dinner for the evening
New Swiffer Sweeper (yes I know this lends serious doubts to my commitment to greenness, but I have a 4000 sqare foot house--yep, more doubts--and 2 animals and a child. I am currently unwilling to give up Swiffer.)
Do you know what I came out with? $86.00 worth of food!! Clementines--my favorite, but expensive--type of fruit. They only come in that big wooden box, so even if I eat 5 a day they usually go bad before I can finish. (Really, aren't you impressed by how little I waste?) Oh, and ribs, anyone? Hey, Money Saving Mom says you should cook to please your husband! Even though he cooks to please me, if he wants to make barbequed spare ribs for dinner, I'm hardly going to argue with him. After all, he's my husband.
I was also entranced with the bread selections...and amazed that most were around $3 a loaf. Is that how much bread is everywhere?? Unfortunately, while trying calculate how to get the best bang for my buck I was interrupted when Strange-Man-Who-Won't-Stop-Talking-To-You showed up, now with his very-much-a-teenager daughter and 20 month old granddaughter. He smiled like we were long-lost friends, having migrated together from the Dollar Tree to Giant, and launched into a spiel about how expensive bread was. Yep, I got it buddy. In my haste I probably grabbed the most expensive loaf and exhaustedly high-tailed it out of there.
So, I think I need to go read more blogs and learn more about frugality. I don't think that the living-on-$35-a-week will work in our household where G2 insists on cooking the same kind of food all the Food Network stars do. I mean, this is the man who scoffed at me last night when I asked what duck con fit was. Who also happens to be gluten-free. I don't think he's going to settle for Hamburger Helper and generic canned peas.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still on my quest, and I'm still going to work at the coupon thing and play the CVS game and try to take advantage of deals. But maybe I just need to make a general effort as opposed to a specific goal? Must marinate that thought while I cut up clementines and left over spare ribs for my son for breakfast.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Free Stuff? Sure, Sign Me Up!

So I'm starting to realize that my blog isn't going to take off in a week and I'll suddenly be rich enough to support my family on blogging alone like Dooce. I think you need something along the lines of 1000 hits a day to earn just pennies with AdSense...and (excuse me while I lower my head in embarrassment) if you look at my counter I think I'm still under 100. Sigh.

Much of the reading and research I'm doing about blogging is teaching me that (a) it takes a long time to get up and running and get an established readership and (b) one of the best ways to do that is by reading other people's blogs and commenting in hopes that they will read yours and, if they like it enough, post it on their blog. Then their readers just might notice your catchy title and check out your blog...and become your reader. See how it all works??

In the interest of networking a little, as well as pushing some traffic in the direction of a few other bloggers, I thought I'd post a few links to some free stuff. Money Saving Mom has a post of links (each week? every now and then?) where people post links of free things they're giving away on their blogs. Check it out...

* CVS Giftcard: This blogger is giving away a $25 CVS giftcard. All you have to do is leave a comment or mention her giveaway on your blog (done and done!)

* Another CVS Giftcard: Here is another blogger doing virtually the same thing!!

* Target Giftcard: This girl, Kim, asked for ideas of what to pack for a picnic lunch to the beach...and in return she's doing a giveaway of a Target giftcard of mystery value (somewhere between $1 and 25$)

* 1 Year Subscription to This is my favorite--a year's subscription to an online babysitting network. I sooo hope I win this one:) Our babysitter Katie was found through and she was awesome (but unfortunately only around for this summer, boo.) Anyhow, here is the link...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Cleaned out the Tupperwear Drawer...Go Me!

It's only Tuesday but, um, so far my efforts at reorganization are pitiful. As in, the following:
Messy, Unorganized Tupperware Drawer

Neat and Tidy Tupperware Drawer
To be honest, this endeavor took me a grand total of 5 minutes--and only that long because my little G3 was helping (read: whipping out lids and flinging them like Frisbees, then retrieving like a family dog, and finally placing them into my outstretched hands.) Why is the Tupperware drawer so damn difficult to keep straight in the first place? See below:

Moments After the Great Re-Organization, A Small Hand Appears...

That's why. Oh well, what childhood would be complete without one's very own drawer of unbreakable and non-life threatening items to toss about?
My other reorganization efforts, yet to be attempted, include the following locations--pantry, laundry room, and under the sink:

I have made a promise to myself that these three areas will be neatened and pleasing to the eye by Friday (color-coding and alphabetizing is unlikely.) Finding time will be trickier since my son's nickname this week is Baby-No-Nap and I don't think his assistance in rearranging the Clorox and Cascade would behoove either of us. I cannot promise after pics due to sending my camera off to be replaced or repaired--whichever gift Sony decides to repay me with.
So, at the near halfway point of the week, I have accomplished...tidying up the Tupperware drawer. Whoo hoo! I feel thinner, greener, and oh so much richer already! (Oh yeah, and running twice, doing about 700 loads of laundry, and round the clock tending to Baby-No-Nap who is also being dubbed Baby-Whines-A-Lot-For-No-Reason. Okay, he's teething, he has a reason. Still, tough on Mommy.)
Side Note: Yay for spell-checker!! I have apparently been spelling Tupperware "tupperwear" all these years. Nice. I'll take this moment to inform everyone that I actually graduated from college with a bachelor's degree. Just in case you were wondering.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Couponing My Way Into Week 5

My coupon clipping habits of the past pretty much consisted of cutting lots of coupons and letting them fester in a plastic envelope for months (years?) past the expiration dates. Or, cutting lots of coupons for things I don't normally buy and actually using the coupons...and then not really using the items. I even subscribed to the Sunday edition of the newspaper for a time only to realize that no coupon was worth walking to the top of my very long, very steep driveway clad in pajamas. In the middle of the winter. Six months pregnant.
After reading a few posts of Money Saving Mom's regarding couponing and utilizing rewards programs at certain stores such as CVS and Walgreen's, I've decided that I need to give this a go. Her philosophy is (in a very rough nutshell--you should really go read her blog if you find yourself oddly drawn to saving money by snipping pieces of paper, as I am) that stocking up on items you routinely use when they are on sale AND you have coupons is the way to go. She apparently feeds her family on $35 a week using this method and while I'm not that ambitious (see previous post's confession of spending $26 on sushi) I definitely think we could reduce our weekly grocery bill by stockpiling certain items.
I gave this a half-hearted attempt last week. I revived my CVS extra-care card, and bought 2 12-packs of toilet paper on sale for $5.49 each. I also used a CVS coupon to save $2 and a regular coupon to save a $1.50. So now we have toilet paper galore, and God knows we need it in this household. I then hit JCPenney's with a $10 off a purchase of $10 or more and bought a pair of my favorite Carter's fuzzy fleece pjs for G3--they were on sale for $12.99. Finally, I made a side trip to our local grocery store and stocked up on baby stuff using the store coupons and buying stuff they had on sale that week. My total "savings" from the 3 stores equaled about $50 according to my receipts. Not too bad. Until G2 had a craving for sushi and I went outlet shopping with my sister. Ooops.
The downside--it did involve going a bit out of my way since the closest CVS is in downtown Hazleton, an area I generally do not frequent. I think a weekly trip will be worth it if I am purchasing a larger quanity of something at a great discount, plus you apparently rack up "extra care bucks"--basically cash off your next purchase. According to money saving mom, eventually you should be able to use this "overage" to avoid paying anything more than a few dollars.
This week's goal is to set the plan in motion. CVS has sales on 3 things I use AND have coupons for: Gerber foods, Duracell batteries, and tissues. So I will make the trip. G2 did the grocery shopping today, but I made the list based on what was on special and the coupons I had. Only one real big save--the store special was 4 boxes of General Mills cereal for $8.00--and I had a coupon for $1 off 3. So that was basically $7 for 4 large boxes of cereal; I eat cereal daily but I figure this is at least a month's worth.
I do have one other small mini-goal for the week...reorganization of my pantry and a few other insanely cluttered arenas. I don't think this task will make me thinner or might make me richer if, say, I find a lost $20 bill in the bottom of the tupperwear drawer (highly unlikely.) If nothing else, it will make me saner.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Water-Saving Week in Summation...

The fact that I had to stop and think for a moment to remember what this week's goal was should tell you something, mainly--she was not committed! As mentioned before, I had a few roadblocks in my attempts to use less hot water--namely house guests. I will sadly have to consider this week a failure - however, I will attempt to continue on my journey of using less hot water in the future. Stay tuned.

Other goals met? I exercised 3 times (well, let's be ambitious and say 4 times in the event that I go running tomorrow.) I definitely did not drink 3 or even 2 liters of water everyday. I did hang most of the laundry out to dry, so I get bonus points for that (right?)

Moving on to my fifth week...I'm going to assign myself some type of money-saving goal, based on some ideas from Money Saving Mom. I've already started trying some of her techniques, but again, my busy week got in the way. It doesn't really compute if I shopped and saved a bunch on Monday, but then spent even more than what I saved on sushi and baby clothes, does it? I've also got some serious home organization needs, so perhaps a little side-goal? I'll let you know on Monday. Right now the track and field portion of the Olympics is on and it's oddly entertaining...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Failing Miserably

Things NOT To Do When Using Less Hot Water Is One's Weekly Goal
1. Have house guests 4 of the 7 nights of the week. With my cousin here Sunday and Monday night, and my sister here tonight and tomorrow, that makes for a minimum of 4 extra showers. And, since I would never ask my guests to curb their bathing time that means 4 normal to long showers.
2. Allow house guests to do the dishes. Don't get me wrong, I certainly appreciated the help cleaning up after dinner. However, my cousin let the water run full blast on the hottest setting the entire time she was hand washing all the serving plates, pans, and baby bottles. And since we were gabbing away, this took longer than if she had just been washing dishes alone. But hey, as they say, don't kick a gift horse in the mouth--I wasn't going to critique someone's water-saving skills while that someone was washing my dishes!
3. Decide to do a load of pure whites for the first time in about 2 years. I'm generally laundry-challenged, and I can afford to be thanks to having a newer, higher-tech washer and dryer. I usually just separate "dark" clothes (i.e. navy, black, red, etc) from "light" clothes (i.e. any color that won't bleed into the whites I throw in with them.) But every once in a great while I have a complete load of solid whites and, well, I kind of like the smell of them being washed in hot water with a little bleach. So sue me.
I'm not sure that I will even continue with this goal, though at least I learned that running the hot water prior to running the dishwasher is economical, and that hand washing dishes from breakfast and lunch was probably not saving me shit. Other goals are on track--exercising, water intake, and less dryer usage, so the week isn't a total bust so far.
Better planning next time!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dishwasher vs. Sink

So I did a bit of research over cheerios with G3, and I found quite a few forums of argument over which method is more economical. Here is a passage from thriftyfun that kind of sums it up:

RE: Handwashing vs. The Dishwasher - Which is more economical?
Post By (Guest Post) (04/17/2006)
A friend who is a plumber told me this."If you wash dishes by hand three times a day, breakfast, lunch, supper with a full sink of hot soapy water you will use more water then using your dishwasher once a day"."Your electricity will be about the same as you are using less hot water from the tank and if you don't need to heat the water for the dishwasher it is equivalent. However, this is with most newer dishwashers".The other thing is you should always run your water in the kitchen sink until is hot before you turn your dishwasher so it will be hot, and use air dry if at all possible.Hope this helps you out!

The general consensus is that unless you have a very small family or make very few dirty dishes, the dishwasher is the way to go. This makes me very happy, since I don't particularly like washing dishes by hand. Since the age of the dishwasher seems to play a part, I'm going to assume mine is less than 10 years old, which is how old our house is-the dishwasher was here when we bought the house.

I had not, however, heard about running your hot water prior to starting the dishwasher. Since dinner dishes are usually what fills it up, and there are always dinner dishes that HAVE to be handwashed (aka pots and pans) this will work nicely for me. Hey, you learn something new everyday!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What's In Store for Week Four?

First, a summation of water intake (week three's goal of 3 liters a day):

As mentioned, I discovered early on that 3 liters was pretty much impossible unless I was a camel, so I shot for 2 to 2.5. I did good Monday to Friday, but was worried that the weekend would hit me hard in terms of sticking to my goal. I was right to be concerned...

Saturday--liquid consumption equaled about 8oz of water, 4 beers over the course of the day, and multiple cups of sangria. Oops.

Sunday--so far liquid consumption consists mainly of coffee due to 13 month old being awake for two hours in the middle of the night and my total sleep only totaling about 3 hours. (Sangria of course had no effect on this mishap.)

Ok, so I'm going to keep filling the liter size bottle because I like it, but I have a feeling I should have aimed lower. Onto week four. I have another busy week coming up with three separate houseguests on different nights, a road trip for a much needed girls night out (sans children) and a family reunion. This week's goal will touch both the greener and richer sides of me; I'm going to attempt to use less hot water.

How am I going to do this?

First, showers. I do pretty much need a shower everyday, but my son does not. I mean, don't get me wrong, I bathe the little guy but he doesn't "need" a bath every single night. And since I don't wash my hair or shave my legs every single day, at least every other day for me can be a quick shower. Having a baby in the house has taught me that I can take a shower faster than I ever dreamed possible, and I will be capitalizing on this relatively new found skill. No word yet on my husbands attempts for shorter showers...and, um, he really can't afford to skip any.

Dishwasher. Must investigate whether hand washing small amounts of dishes throughout the day in order to avoid filling the dishwasher as fast (and thus reducing the amount of times said dishwasher needs to be run) is really saving hot water. More details on this later--lingering effects of sangria are going to make online self-education efforts poor for the rest of the day.

Washer. I pretty much wash everything in cold anyhow, so this shouldn't even require effort.

A general consciousness about letting water run (hot or not, but especially hot.) Or maybe do things like washing my hands and face with cold water...

Any other ideas? Operation Reduce Hot Water Usage begins tomorrow!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Water Water Water!

As mentioned, I initially shared my idea of the weekly goals with my friends on my tightly knit mommy board. The mommy board consists of fifteen awesome, fabulous women that I connected with during my pregnancy. We all had babies in June and July of 2007, and have forged an incredible bond posting on our private forum. As expected, my girls jumped all over this idea. I initially thought that I would post a weekly goal and we'd all do the same one, but in reality this just didn't work. Basically, each girl kind of picked their own goal and we posted about them, encouraging one another and using the board as kind of a motivator.

Having individual goals has a huge upside of sparking new ideas for each of us. My third weekly goal was stolen from Julie, who made a goal for herself to drink more water. So, I decided that I would attempt to drink 3 liters of water a day.

Where did I get that number from? To be honest, last weekend my husband bought a liter bottle of water. So I had the empty bottle, it was big, and filling it three times a day seemed a decent amount. (I am in no way trying to pimp Poland Spring water, by the way, that just happened to be the brand G2 bought.)

How did I go? Well, 3 liters of water a day is a lot of freaking water. On Monday, I achieved my goal and felt that small animals could probably go swimming inside of me, as full of water as I was. It took an entire full pitcher of Britta water to fill my bottle. Becca, another mommy board girl, pointed out to me that 3 liters of water was something to the equivalent of 13 8 oz glasses...and that I'd probably be good with 2 liters. Good thing because by Tuesday night, at only at one and half liters, I was starting to rethink my goal.

It's now Friday. I have consumed an average total of 2.5 liters a day--meaning some days I actually drank 3, and others only 1. But not too bad overall. The challenge will really be the upcoming weekend. For some reason, plans and good habits tend fall wayside during the weekend. But I shall keep filling my liter bottle (which is becoming a bit ragged) and invest in a real reusable bottle sometime in the near future.

Oh, and previous goals? Well, I went running 3 times so far. Hoping to get a run in tomorrow morning and definitely a walk with friends on Sunday. Did 4 loads of laundry, 2 dryer runs. Not too shabby.

Week Two...A Greener Goal

First I should clarify that the idea here is to carry over the goals from each week. I didn't really think of this aspect of my idea when I came up with it...I was so consumed with the whole thinner/greener/richer thing that I didn't think that by the end of a year of doing this, I was going to be pretty busy trying to keep up. I'm picturing my house in disarray, my child looking like an orphan and my husband moved on to another family, all the while I'm racing madly through each day, trying to keep up with 52 goals.

So clearly, not every goal is going to stick, at least not every week.

But for week two, it was highly attainable for me to keep up with my week one goal (exercise 5 times a week) and add in another one. I had a busy week with two road trips to visit old friends, which equals a lot of time spent packing, driving, and drinking (not all at once, of course.) Doing the exercise thing was still do-able...after all, I did it the previous week didn't I? But I decided to make my second weekly goal one that was less time consuming.

After learning that the dryer is one of the biggest contributors to the electric bill, I had made a half-hearted attempt to use it less. Basically all this meant is that I hung baby bibs on a pegboard in the laundry room, and laid out swimming towels or rugs to dry in the sun. Big whoop. I had intended all along to have a clothesline and, well, this was the week to make good on that attempt!

I don't own a drying rack, but I did find a ball of string, and the lower part of our house consists of beams that hold up the deck above it--perfect for stringing up a clothesline, I thought. I headed down and was delighted to discover hooks on each side of each beam--as if it was just meant for a clothesline! I tied up my twine and hung my very first load out to dry! I was so excited!

Unfortunately, I failed to consider two things. One, the location of my makeshift line was about as far from the laundry room as you can possibly get. Trying to get down the basement steps to go out this door with a full basket of wet clothes and keep a small child from sneaking down the stairs and possibly breaking his neck proved quite difficult. And two, the lovely flower boxes that decorate the outside of our deck are directly above the clothesline. So when G2 came home that evening and watered the plants, he also watered the freshly dried clothes (which I had failed to collect after seven hours because it was a pain in the ass.)

Ok. Onto plan B. There was nowhere just outside our laundry room door to put up a clothesline--its a brick patio. We also live on the side of a rocky mountain--so pounding stakes into the ground isn't desirable either. In the interest of sticking to my goal, I got my ball of twine and rigged up a ghetto clothesline strung between the patio light and the deckchairs. Hey, whatever works! In addition, adirondack chairs are great for drying items like towels, sheets, and dog blankets.

Overall assessment--First, for the exercise goal, I managed 5 times--although one of my walks was with some friends and we had tumblers of wine in hand. But I digress.

Second, I did 9 loads of wash this week and ran the dryer 3 times. Not too bad. I can't hang everything...I'm the kind of person who counts on the dryer to return my stretched out jeans and shirts to shape. And, I'm not really interested in ironing my husband's polo shirts for work when the dryer does just fine at getting out the wrinkles. And, nobody in our house is willing to put up with stiff, scratchy bath towels. But everything else--baby clothes, workout clothes, pajamas, wash rags, dishtowels, swimming towels, underwear--goes on the line. Or, as the case may be, the deck chairs...

My First Weekly Goal...Exercise 5 Times!

Sounds pretty ambitious, huh? My very first goal to myself was to add in 30 minutes of exercise 5 of the 7 days of the week. This exercise would be on top of the nightly running my husband I attempt to do 2-3 nights of the week.

Since the entire purpose of this weekly-goal-adventure is to assign a small goal each week, in hopes of actually accomplishing it, you may be wondering why I picked something that seems so destined to fail. That's sort of like a New Year's Resolution that you'll quit smoking, or join a gym, or start eating healthy. Huge changes that rarely stick because--by nature--we humans are creatures of habit. And if your habit is eating Mars Bars for breakfast and fried chicken for dinner, you're not going to suddenly just switch to salads and granola without going into some sort of shock. Hence my idea that little baby steps will seem less daunting, and bit by bit I will become thinner, greener, and richer.

Back to the first goal. Let me start by giving you a brief but necessary history of the role of exercise in my life.

The First 28 Years--Pretty much non-existent. I have always been somewhat active. I grew up riding horses, I've always enjoyed hiking and walking, and I've taken a stab at fitness classes. Kickboxing lasted longer than spinning only because my friend Brooke was the instructor. If I didn't show up for class she was going to kick my ass. At various points between years 25 and 28 I belonged to different gyms. But my attempts at regular exercise were sporadic at best, and nothing ever really stuck.

Year 28-29--Had a baby. Got fat. Really fat.

Year 29-30--After realizing that 19 days of breastfeeding was not going to be enough to burn off 50 excess pounds, I started working out. Winter was approaching, and so the DVR became my new best friend. I DVR'd multiple workout shows and began, um, working out. I'm reluctant to call it that because my early efforts were pathetic. Pregnancy had wreaked havoc on what little strength and endurance I had had to begin with. My flab was my enemy. I can recall trying to do a Pilates move called a plank; you basically put yourself in the push-up position, but instead of your hands holding your weight, your forearms do. I couldn't do it. I was pathetic.

But little by little I did start losing weight. It took a lot of time--I believe I worked out for 7 weeks before I saw any real difference. Then, in March of this past year, my husband G2 up and decided to start running. Since his level of activity was even less than mine (pre-baby) I decided to join him. Note--I have never, and I do mean never run. I hated it at first. I still hate it sometimes. But its made a huge difference in a lot of aspects of my life.

Summer rolled in with weeks on end of 90 degree heat, and G2 was pretty tied up with his out-of-control vegetable garden. Our running became more sporadic. I noticed the effects...and I didn't like the way I was feeling. Going 4 days without exercise (okay 7 days) wasn't behooving me at all. I felt flabby. I felt lazy. I felt like if I kept up with the non-exercising I would be right back where I started. That a habit of daily exercise that had taken nearly a year to build could just disapear in a few weeks. And even though my highest weight was due to pregnancy, it didn't seem impossible that I could just float back to that scary number just by doing...nothing.

So, week one--add 30 minutes of exercise to 5 of the 7 days. I decided this would be in addition to running. As in, if we ended up running at night, sweet, added bonus. If not, I knew I had at least done 30 minutes of light exercise. I either walked in the morning (pushing my 21# son in his jogging stroller) or I did a DVR'd episode of Denise Austin.

How did it go, you ask? It went great! Deciding ahead of time to do this made it easier to stick to it. I also informed my friends on my mommy board of my plan, and they all jumped on the bandwagon (with their own goals) but it helped keep me on track. The comedic aspect of doing episodes of Denise Austin from the early 90's was enough to keep me going back for more. If you're interested, they air on Lifetime. Now obviously Denise knows her stuff, otherwise she wouldn't look the way she does and she wouldn't have a work-out empire. But, God love her, she has to be one of the cheesiest, and most uncoordinated work-out instructors I know. Even my one-year old laughs at her.

Final summation of week one--success! We shall see what week two brings...


Welcome to the world of attempting to improve and change your small step at a time!

Sounds pretty cheesy, huh? Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Lindsay and I am a 30-something stay-at-home mom. I have a husband (we'll call him G2) and a son (known as G3). I have a dog and a cat. Back in my pre-mom life, I was a veterinary technician and did all kinds of fun stuff like animal anesthesia and venipuncture and other gory tasks. I live in Northeastern PA. I am a writer at heart.

I have quite a few blogs. I have one that is for family and friends, chock full of cute little baby stories about my 1-year old. I have one that is my "travel journal"--basically, instead of handwriting my memories while on vacation, I now blog about them. I have a pregnancy blog, which only lasted 9 months for obvious reasons. I have a secret, nobody-can-read-it blog that is in essence, my diary (though I confess I have not posted in that one for several years.) I also have a dream blog--a place I used to chronicle my dreams. Another ghost blog--there is only so much time to write.

Which brings me to this blog. I had an idea a few weeks ago, that a better way to accomplish the changes I want to see in my life would be to pick one small goal at a time, more specifically--one goal a week. My three major hurdles in life are being healthy (not just being skinny, but being HEALTHY), becoming more green, and saving money. As a stay-at-home-mom, my financial contribution to the house is pretty much limited to what I sell on EBay and the money I win at slot machines (which, to be honest, has only happened once--both because I don't really gamble and I'm not particularly lucky.)

A friend turned me on to moneysavingmom and I thought I'd give this blogging-for-profit thing a whirl. In the back of my mind I had lofty visions of writing about my goals each week and how my life was or was not changing little by little. Then at the end of the year I'd turn it into a book and publish it and the next thing you know, I'd be on Oprah's couch! But let's get real. Despite a lifelong goal of wanting to write a book, the early years of being a stay-at-home mom are probably not the ones I'm going to find lots of peace, quiet, time and concentration.

So, blogging it is! I welcome you to join me in my efforts to become healthier, greener, and small step at a time!