Friday, April 22, 2011

I Love My New Budget

I recently imposed a budget on myself. Not because I was spending recklessly, but because I really wanted to be told how much I could or could not spend.

I settled in on a modest amount that I would not go over on buying things for Gracie and me, which usually translates to mean.... clothes, and it lasts me through the month. I can spend all of it on Gracie or all of it on me or somewhere in between.

It's almost like an allowance... I can spend it as fast or as slow as I want, but when it's gone for the month, it's gone. And this is why I have loved it...

My new budget helps me shop with purpose. I have sisters, and I also have friends who we go out to the mall or stores with mostly as an outing with our kids. And I ALWAYS find something that will look cute on Gracie and even worse, I can ALWAYS find something for a good deal. Before my budget I understood that I couldn't buy everything I liked even if it was on sale, but now I feel like I know when I should or shouldn't. That's what I lacked before. The difference now is that some outings are fair game for buying a new shirt for spring or a new pair of shoes and some outings are strictly for window shopping. Window shopping has its benefits too. On those trips when I'm not buying anything, I get a chance to just analyze what I like and what I don't, what's a good price and what's not, and in the process make better shopping decisions on future outings.

My new budget helps me return things I plan on returning. For example, I spent the tail end of my spending money this month on a pair of shoes to go with a skirt I bought for Easter. I had to order them and they arrived yesterday. THEY DON'T GO WITH MY SKIRT. I was reminded again why I don't buy shoes on the internet. Ivory looks a lot like white on a computer screen, but a lot more like beige next to my white dress. Luckily I am able to return them here in town, and with the difference buy a pair of white sandals that do match, staying within my budget and saving money, because returns = either saved money or money that can be spent elsewhere. When you only have so much money to spend, every dollar becomes important! It's helping me improve on my habit of not returning things I have planned to return that sit in a bag until I'm convinced that it's not worth the hassle. Now I'm convinced that it is.

My new budget helps me feel accountable and responsible and like I'm exercising restraint. I don't have to have it all, but I can pick up some simple pretty things for Gracie and me. It feels good.

My new budget helps me find good deals. I go back for that coupon I got in my email inbox instead of driving off without it. $5 saved here is $5 spent or saved elsewhere.

My new budget helps me plan ahead. I was walking the aisles of Target looking for a wedding gift when I stumbled on their pajama section. Oh how I could use some pajamas. Pre-budget I may have just spent the 10 to 20 bucks on them right then and there... but I used up my budget by April 5 this month :). The pajamas will have to wait til next month, and until then, I will look for the ones that I like and not just make an impulse buy.

My new budget has helped me splurge a little. In trying to use our money wisely, I have always tried to shop smart. The budget just gives me some direction. So I buy a lot of clothes at sales and the employees at Ross know my face well.

a typical Ross price tag... it's like magic the way that $28.00 turns into a $9.99

But a few weeks into my budget days, I found a shirt at Down East that I really really wanted to own. It was $18. Call me cheap, but I have rarely spent that much on a shirt in my life. I usually remind myself that I could buy two or three shirts for that elsewhere. But I reasoned, if that's how I want to spend my money this month, then that's how I'm going to spend it. And I did. I could have hunted at Ross for something close to it, but I bought the real thing. And I got a little thrill out of it. I don't do that every time, but sometimes it's fun for a change.

I love my new budget because I can get a pedicure without worrying much about whether I should be saving money instead. When my toes are pretty, I feel pretty.

And I have tried doing it myself, but I like to have someone with experience do it so that they look fantastic and not pathetic. If I want to spend a chunk of my allowance on my toes, and I do, then I can.

Lastly, I love my new budget because it helps me feel like I'm being responsible with the money that this man works so hard to provide for us. He works so stinking hard I don't know if I'd be able to sleep at night otherwise!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cumpleaños Feliz Deseamos a Tí, Mami

Dilema and baby Danilo in his birthplace Italy, 1977

Hoy celebramos el cumpleaños de una mujer bien importante y especial en la vida de mi familia. Ella es la mamá de mi esposo, la nona de mi hija, y mi suegrita, una mujer llena de amor, de fortaleza, y que vive cada día para honrar su Padre Celestial.

El nombre de mi suegra es Dilema. Ella siempre se ríe un poco cuando habla de su nombre. “Porque mi mamá me nombró ‘problem’, yo no sé,” me dijo cuando hablamos por la primera vez acerca de este tema. Pero al pensar mucho de mi suegra Dilema esta semana en que ella cumple 60 años, llegué a una conclusión. Mi suegra ha enfrentado muchos pasos y dilemas muy difíciles en su vida. Mi suegrita y yo hemos pasado muchas horas sentadas en la mesa en la cocina y me ha contado poco a poco la historia de su vida. Muchas de las historias pasaron cuando ella fue una mamá soltera, haciendo lo mejor posible para sus hijos en Chile, en Miami, y diferentes partes de Utah. Ella me cuenta historias de aventura, de trabajo fuerte, y de pena. Aunque no tenían mucho, mi esposo y mis cuñadas siempre hablan de tiempos felices en su hogar. Mi suegra se enfrenta las partes difíciles de la vida con fe y una sonrisa, y cuando los tiempos son bastante difíciles que una sonrisa seria inapropiada, sigue solita con su fe. Eso es algo que yo conozco por mi propia experiencia, viendo la forma en que ella se cuida a mi suegrito, un buen hombre afectado mucho por el Parkinson’s disease.

Ha sido un placer llegar a ser la nuera de esta mujer y hacerle parte de mi vida y mi corazón. Yo puedo sentir su gran amor para mí cuando me abraza y cuando hablamos corazón a corazón. Fue muy linda ver la transformación que fue cuando nació Gracie y empezó a ser una abuelita por la primera vez. Me alegro mucho que podía ser parte de esa gran bendición.

¡Feliz cumpleaños Mami!

Today we are celebrating the birthday of someone very important and special in the life of my family. She is the mother of my husband, the “nona” of my daughter, and my sweet mother-in-law. A woman full of love, strength, and who lives every day to honor her Heavenly Father.

My mother-in-law’s name is Dilema. She always laughs a little when she talks about her name. “Why my mom named me ‘problem’, I don’t know!” she told me when we talked about it the very first time. But after thinking a lot about my mother-in-law Dilema as she turns 60 this week, I arrived at a conclusion. My mother-in-law has confronted many difficult times and dilemmas in her life. She and I have spent many hours at her kitchen table as she has told me little by little the story of her life. Many of the stories took place when she was a single mom doing the best she could for her children while they lived in Chile, Miami, and different parts of Utah. She tells me stories of adventure, of hard work, and of heartbreak. Even though they never had much as children, my husband and my sisters-in-law always talk of happy times in their home. My mother-in-law confronts the difficult times in life with faith and a smile, and when times are difficult enough that a smile would be inappropriate, she presses forward with her faith alone. This is something I know from my own experience, seeing the way in which she cares for my father-in-law, a good man affected greatly by Parkinson’s disease.

It has been a pleasure becoming the daughter-in-law of this woman and to make her part of my life and heart. I can feel her love for me when she embraces me and when we talk heart-to-heart.

It was really wonderful to see the transformation that took place when Gracie was born and she began at that moment to be a grandmother for the very first time. It made me happy to be apart of that blessing in her life.

Happy birthday Mami!

My Brother the Eagle

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

She loves spring too.

I know because one of her new favorite words is "ah-sai".

Thank you for your kind responses to my last post. During that bleak time I described, I had no idea this little girl lay in my future. I have been as blissfully happy as my despair was deep.

After reading one more excerpt from my journal that year, you might understand why I felt I needed to post what I did.

I gain a little bit greater insight each day, and each one gives me the strength I need to hang on and keep trying. I have these highs when I know that everything is going to be all right and I almost feel like myself again, only a more refined, polished young woman than I was a year ago. It gives me a great desire to help others, ANYONE who ever finds just the act of living to be painful.
It was one little way I hoped I could. If I can offer you any further encouragement, I would love you to let me know.

Thank you again for your kind words.