30 Days of $ZERO: D -1

I like to shop.  Actually... I love to shop.  I shop when I'm bored, I shop when I'm happy, I shop when I'm mad (I try to remember to take the hubby's credit card on these occasions).  Shopping is both therapeutic and... fun!  Heck, my daughter's first trip out of the house as a newborn was to Target (flameworthy, maybe?). 

As a matter of fact, one of my favorite things to do with Kennedy is head to Target, grab a delicious Starbucks beverage (because, you know, the evil empire of Starbucks just HAD to team up with the evil empire of Target in a joint effort to destroy my bank account.  Well played, you two) and wander the aisles, adding completely unnecessary "necessities" to our cart.  We could spend hours roaming the store... it's just kind of our thing.

I used to call Target the $50 store... because any trip inside those red doors guaranteed a $50 dent in my account.  Now that they have a magical Starbucks inside... well now it's the $80 store.  Not that a Starbucks coffee costs $30 (although it might as well!) but something about enjoying a nice warm chai while I shop just makes me want to spend more money (again, well played evil geniuses).  

And don't even get me started on how many times I have walked into that store "needing" one or two simple items (toothpaste, shampoo) and walked out with an $80 bag containing everything under the sun... except toothpaste and shampoo.  These occasions require a return trip to the red money monster and, of course, another $80.

At this very moment, I have four different varieties of coffee (that I just had to have) for my Keurig (that I fell in love with when Kevin gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago).  I have acquired (likely through various Target trips) a handful of travel coffee cups.  I even have a few different flavor syrups, chai mixes and other treats to fancy up my beverage, a la Starbucks style.  I work nights.  I drink coffee.  Perfect solution: before I leave for work, make a coffee, dress it up in whatever way suits me, pour it into lovely Target travel mug and enjoy.  Does this happen?  No.  I pass a Starbucks on my way to work and like a moth to light, I am drawn in.  A few minutes later, I am on my way with my delicious nectar of the Gods... and $5+ lighter in the wallet.  I've never smoked or done drugs, but I am pretty sure I am addicted to my Non-Fat Chai Tea Latte with one pump of pumpkin like ::insert witty celebrity addiction comparison here::  Clearly, I am too busy shopping and drinking my chai to keep up with celebrity gossip.

The third and final member of the evil trifecta is Wegmans.  Now, I love Wegmans.  As a matter of fact, I love that store so much I think I visit it more than Target.  I go in for "just one quick thing" and walk out with a cart full of delicious treats.  Their selection is great and I... I want it all.  I buy Club Packs of everything.  What's better than a few pieces of fresh fruit or veggies?  A whole club pack of every single fresh fruit or vegetable that catches my eye that will rot before I eat them (because, of course, Kevin will avoid them like the plague).  During the summer, we primarily shop at the local farmer's market, which we love.  This summer I learned how to can and I also flash froze lots and lots of vegetables, so we can enjoy them during the winter months without paying big bucks for them at the grocery store.  As a matter of fact, my freezer and pantry are both so full that I have to shuffle things around to smush more in, every time I come back from the store.  Does this stop me from going overboard and buying more more more?  In short, no.  Often, I end up buying doubles (or triples) of things, because they have been buried so deep in the freezer or pantry that I forgot I had them.  It's out of control.

Online shopping is another one of my downfalls.  A few days a week a package will show up at my door and Kevin will ask "what did you buy NOW?"  I sheepishly shrug my shoulders because the chances are pretty good that in the 2-3 weeks it took to deliver said package, I have already made a few more online purchases and forgot all about the little gem that has arrived on my doorstep.  Is it the new sweater I ordered that I will probably never wear?  Another "OMG this is SO cute" outfit I just HAD to buy for Kennedy (her closet puts mine to shame, by the way.  I thought I had a shopping problem before... enter super cute toddler girl and the shopping addiction hits an all time high).  Is it the random play room decor that will never make it onto the wall?  I just don't know.

So clearly, I have a problem.  

The first step to fixing the problem is actually admitting that you have a problem.

Ok great.  So step one: admit you have a problem... check.

Now onto step two.  And this may seem a little drastic, crazy, out-there... but it has to be done.

This month, I am going on a spending diet.  Well, actually... if money were food, I guess I am going on spending hunger strike.

This month, I am spending ZERO money.

Well... not technically zero.  We still have to pay our bills, put gas in the car to get to/from work and pay the babysitter.  We have agreed that milk and eggs are ok to buy for Kennedy.  Aside from these true necessities... 


No trips to Target to waste the afternoon away browsing and shopping with Kennedy.  No  Wegmans runs to grab "just a few" ingredients for dinner.  No online impulse shopping.

No Starbucks.


So here I am... the day before I begin my starvation spending diet.  I am enjoying my very last amazingly delicious Starbucks chai tea latte ( *might* have ordered two and stored on in the fridge).  Kennedy and I just enjoyed a ridiculous expensive Panera lunch (when did they get so pricey anyway?) and we have decided to order chinese take-out for our last purchased meal.  I'm a sucker for some good lo mein.  :)

Tomorrow it begins.

  • Food:  I will be using what I have on hand to cook with.  If I can clear out my freezer stash and empty out my pantry, that would be awesome!  We have agreed that if we run completely out of fruits and vegetables, we will buy a small amount of whatever is on sale for Kennedy.  No more "club packs of everything".  And we will eat or freeze it all.  No more letting it go bad and throwing it away.
  • Fun:  Kennedy and I will work on finishing her alphabet wall project that I started before Christmas.  I also have some Valentine's crafts (that I, shockingly, bought last year and never used) that we can do.  I will also be scouring the internet for fun, FREE local activities to enjoy.  No more trips to Target to kill time and waste money.  I just might have to (finally) conquer my fear of my sewing machine.
  • Kevin's birthday: is this month and we have decided this will be a "cheat" day, hence the 30 days of zero and not 31.  He can choose whatever he wants for dinner, either eat out or I will grocery shop for that meal and cook at home, whichever he decides.  I will either set a budget for his gift or, in lieu of a present, we may make a trip to Pittsburgh.  If we do, we will set a small budget for the trip and stick within it.
  • Coffee:  Let's be real here.  This is probably what you were really wondering.  How the heck is she going to make it without her Starbucks?  Well... it will not be easy, but I am determined to kick this habit.  I have actually considered taking a different route to work, to avoid the temptation.  Lol!  I will simply make my coffee or chai at home (I did make sure to stock up on chai from Wegmans) and enjoy that on my drive in.  This might get ugly, and my local Starbucks just might report a profit loss for the first time since we moved in... but I will do it.
I will blog about this financial journey and try to estimate how much I have saved along the way.

Are you making any changes in the upcoming year?  What are your goals?

2013: Looking Back

What an amazing year this has been.  I am so truly blessed to have enjoyed good health, lots of love and laughter and many blessings this year.  Let's review, shall we?

We started off the year with a mommy & me trip to Florida.  We had an absolute blast and I learned an awful lot about traveling with a little one.  Kennedy got to meet her great grandparents for the very first time.  She was just as infatuated with them as they were with her.
 We drove to Pittsburgh for a belated Christmas with Kevin's family and enjoyed a few snow days where we went sledding in the back yard and made snow men.
 Kennedy turned 6 months on the 29th and we celebrated with a little photo shoot and a trip to the mall for a carousel ride and her first dinner out (that she could actually eat herself).
 We also began our Baby Led Weaning journey.  First with avacados, the beets and sweet potatoes, then pancakes and bananas.  Kennedy surprised us with her ability to chew and move food around her mouth and her appetite was fantastic.  It was so fun to watch her learn how to feed herself (and sucha  relief to not have to force feed her).

Kennedy was able to crawl all over the house... backwards and learned how to pull herself up.  She cut 2 teeth and said her first word, "mama".  We also started working on teaching her to sign.  We should have started sooner, but better late than never.  Signing is a great way to communicate with your baby.

Kennedy gained some forward momentum in the crawling department and Lucy's lazy days ended in a flash.  That poor puppy gets no peace now and Kennedy just adores her.  She also started practicing her walking skills by holding daddy's hands and taking steps.  Baby girl also picked up a few new words and continued rocking the BLW.  This month she ate steak, chicken, french fries, hash browns and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
 We celebrated Easter (on time this year) with a little Easter egg hunt in our living room and a yummy dinner.

I honored my angel baby on what would have been his or her first birthday.  Such bittersweet emotions surrounded me.  I am so truly blessed to hold the sweetest baby girl in my arms, yet I can't help but wonder about the baby I held only in my heart.  

We took our first trip to visit my brother in Delaware and got some much needed beach time.  It was Kennedy's first time seeing the ocean and, although it was way too cold to swim, she enjoyed it nonetheless.
I also transferred to the brand new Spinal Cord Injury and Rehab unit at work... and to overnight 12s.  That has definitely been an adjustment, but it works for us for now.

Kennedy really got into cruising mode and learned how to climb up the stairs.  We celebrated 9 in/9 out.  It's hard to believe that my squirmy little baby was once a squirmy little rib kicker in my belly. 

A roller coaster of emotions.  The month started off great!  Kennedy learned how to stand on her own and we enjoyed lots of time outside in the beautiful summer weather.  Baby girl got to enjoy the pool for the first time... she loved it!  We celebrated Lucy's second birthday with a pool day and special puppy treats.
We celebrated my first Mother's Day as a mommy... it was perfect and beautiful!  I explored how crunchy I had become in the last few years.  Still cracks me up to think about.  Kennedy picked up several new signs and really started being able to communicate with us. Her balance improved and she was finally able to stand long enough for me to snap some pictures.

My parents came up to visit and Kennedy started babbling and pointing excitedly... at everything.  It was too cute!  

Then the rain came.  I got out of work late to find out when I got to the sitter that Kennedy had taken her first steps... and I missed them.  Then came home to learn that my grandfather was not doing well.  He passed away later that afternoon.

Kevin and I celebrated 2 years of wedded bliss and I got a little mushy.  We took a trip to Pittsburgh and enjoyed a DATE NIGHT!  It was glorious!  Kennedy got to ride her first pony at Kevin's parents's house.

And we took her to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.  She loved it!

We started off the month with a whirlwind trip driving to Pittsburgh, flying to Orlando for my grandfather's funeral services, flying back to Pittsburgh and driving back home.  It was a bittersweet trip.  So nice to see family, and many cousins I hadn't seen in years... but very difficult to say goodbye to my Pop Pop.

Kennedy got even better with walking and started walking everywhere.  We celebrated Kevin's first Father's Day.
and made plans for Kennedy's first birthday

I had a few mommy moments (I said a few, lol) as we prepared to celebrate Kennedy's first birthday.  It was so hard to believe that she was turning one. 

Baby girl's first birthday!  The party was a blast, the day was bittersweet and yet everything I hoped it would be for her.  Both Kevin's parents and my parents were able to come visit, as well as Kevin's brother, Chad.  We played, Kennedy smashed her cake and reminisced about her newborn days.
Work started to stress me out and I had a few (mostly coffee related) psychotic episodes.  Thankfully my coworkers have a sense of humor and a secret stash of caffeine.

Kennedy walked more, started to run.  She started learning to use utensils, cut a few more teeth and became increasingly fascinated with books.  Kevin's side of the family welcomed a new baby cousin, Lyla.

We enjoyed lots of play time outside with our favorite puppy and even took her to a doggie carnival.  So fun!


We started off the month with not one, but two trips to the fair!  We met up with our sweet friends, Adam and Amy and their adorable daughter Abbi from Buffalo.  Love the fair!
 Kennedy LOVED dancing to the music in the African village
 I finally donated my stash of extra breast milk that I had pumped.  I was able to donate 750 ounces of liquid gold to the National Milk Bank.  I learned how to can (major crunchy mommy accomplishment).  And I learned that being a good mommy doesn't mean that you do everything right, all the time... or that you do everything, period.  I had to learn to let go of some things and to take it a little easier on myself. 
 We went apple picking at Critz Farms and enjoyed the beautiful fall weather.
I'm still not sure what Kennedy enjoyed more... picking apples or loving on all of the animals at the petting zoo.  Either way, she had a lot of fun and made a lot of new furry friends.
At the end of the month, we headed down to the Outer Banks, NC for our first real family vacation.  We rented a beach house on the sound and relaxed for a week, soaking up the sun, splashing in the waves and just enjoying being together.  My parents were able to come down for a few days each and my brother even made a cameo appearance with his new girlfriend.  All in all, is was a great vacation!

We celebrated Babywearing Week with a fashion show and a trip to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo with some crunchy friends.   And we went back to the zoo a few weeks later for the Zoo Boo.  So fun!

Kennedy battled her first (and hopefully only) round of Coxsackie Virus (Hand, foot and mouth) and then shared it with me.  Not fun.  Her language development was really impressive and she added dozens of new words to her signing and speaking vocabulary.  She also learned how to climb down the stairs.
And... I got older.  By a year.  Whoop dee doo.  :/

 We made another trip to November.  Kennedy played with the horses.
 We took Kennedy to see the circus... what a cool experience!  Lots of fun!


We prepared for Christmas like all families do... by allowing our toddler to decorate (and eat) an enormous amount of cookies.  Right?

We enjoyed mass together as a family

Then opened our traditional, one present... Christmas jammies!!

We were so blessed to have the best surprises for the holidays... my brother surprised us on Christmas Eve 
and Kevin's brother surprised us (dressed in full Santa attire) on Christmas morning. 
After thinking we would be spending the day with our small little family, we were thrilled to be surrounded by lots more love and laughter.  We had a great day!  And Kennedy, of course, made out like a bandit!

As you can see, 2013 has been an incredible year.  We are so thankful for all of the blessings God has brought us.  It's amazing how much Kennedy has grown and how much we, as a family, have grown.  It's hard to imagine that 2014 could possibly be any better than this year has been... but I have a feeling it might!

Happy New Year! 

The Boles Family