Saturday, May 28, 2016

Another Look at Our American Budget

Two months ago I published our budget where we spent around $2,500. We still want to make it consistently $2,000 a month! This month we achieved it!! (Well, about $30 over, but I'll take it!)

Here is a breakdown of what we spent from Feb 17th - March 16 2016. It starts off right where the last budget I posted ends. For reference, at this point we were a household of two with a 7 month old baby who was just starting solids. We have no house or car payments, and we do not count insurance in our monthly budget (we have house and car and health insurance) but we do count any doctor visits or medical bills into the budget. We also do not disclose how much we tithe, and that is not included in the budget.


Bills  ($288.99)
  • Netflix: We still have our $7.99 netflix account
  • Internet: We pay 50.00 for internet a month. It's expensive, but they only offer one service in our area.
  • YMCA: 46.00 for our gym membership
  • Phones: 25.00 a month for two phones with unlimited text and talk, no data.
  • Electric bill: $160 this month.
Bills are fixed points on our budget. We didn't have a water bill this month as it comes every two months, and our electric bill went down this month from last!

Baby Expenses ($17.00)

Last month we spent a lot on Reuben. This month we spent 17.00 at Target on a cute swimsuit set for him, since next month we plan on adding me back to the YMCA account and taking Reuben swimming.

Food

Food was one of our largest items last month. We did considerably better this month when eating out, but worse in our grocery shopping. We still buy all organic produce, if you are wondering about our inflamed grocery shopping budget.
  • Eating Out: 89.56
  • Brian's Lunch at Work: 104.63
  • Grocery Shopping: 904.15
Gas

I didn't get any gas this month. Must not have driven a lot! Brian spent 20.39 in fuel.

Personal Money

Besides the $90 every two weeks that my husband places into a separate account for me to spend as I please (usually online shopping...but this month I purchased a blog consultation with Brita Media) I spent $372.59. I was shocked when I saw this! What did I buy? Well, I bought my first pair of chacos!

I also spent some money shopping at Modcloth and from my Stitchfix box, and I purchased a necklace for my mother for Mother's day from Origami Owl. I also went out to eat with a friend (not my husband so it goes under my personal money).

Brian spent 178.25 in personal money, and I don't know what he bought. Probably electronic things!

Other

I spent 26.00 at the doctors and Brian spent 90. Such is life.

So there is what we spent from Feb 17 - March 16th 2016. I am proud we lowered our expenses in some areas. My personal money still needs a bit of work! We plan on posting our budgets for one year to show what  living in America can look like from our limited, personal experience.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Moms Know Best

I am Reuben's mom. I was there in the intimate moment when he was conceived. I was the one crying through the contractions as he was born. And I am the one to choose how he is raised--or am I?

In this secular world we live in, I feel many professionals expect to take a more active role in raising my child then I think necessary. Our government regulates a lot of things, and child-rearing is no exception. As I lean more and more towards natural choices, I see myself fighting for the right to raise my child, and I simply don't understand it. He's my child. I conceived, carried and bore him. I am his mother. I am the one responsible for him. Professionals, in my opinion, are there to offer guidance in the area of their expertise, not to impose rigid ultimatums and scare tactics.


Today I asked myself: when did this start to become the norm? When did we start telling mothers that they don't know what is best for their children? In a world where the government raises your children through public schools, runs sexual education programs, imposes laws about injections and vaccinations without considering the individual medical history of each child, and even creates rules about what your child can eat for lunch, it's no wonder we as moms think we don't know anything.

I grew up in what would now be labeled "free range". Back then it was just called parenting. My mom allowed me and my sister to have the run of the neighborhood as preteens. We thought nothing of it. I mean, of course we had rules--to check in every few hours, and to tell her what house we were going to... Never once did I feel abandoned by my mother. I frolicked and made friends and played imaginary games about castles and knights up and down my street while my mom did laundry and had a few peaceful kid-free moments by herself. I never felt unsafe, parents were always watching, poking their heads outside and waving at us, making us cookies and giving us water.

I think nothing odd abut my childhood. But Reuben's will be very different, sadly. The days of free range kids is over: it's now considered abuse to let your child out of your sight. Sure, the world is a different place. But I know if I allow Reuben a "free range" adolescence I will probably end up needing a lawyer at some point.

Why is this? Why can I not make decisions on how I raise my son, and how much freedom I allow him at what age? Why am I treated like I don't know what is best for him? I and my husband are the ones that know Reuben. We, as parents, should know how responsible he is and be able to allow or disallow certain things based on our knowledge of our son. A one size fits all approach to childhood negates not only parental right, but the complexity of individual children.  

What part of this is yours?
I firmly believe mom knows best. I am, after all, the one who (with my husband) loves my child best. I will be spending the next 17-19 years with him in our household. I will diligently research everything if I feel something is wrong. Unlike a doctor who has many patients, I have one son and hours upon hours a day to devote to his care. Sure, I need professional advice sometimes. But that is all it should be: advice. To take it or leave it.

We need to stop making moms feel like they don't know what they are doing. We need to stop with the scare tactics and the manipulation. Instead, we should empower parents to make informed decisions for their kids that they feel is best, and support them throughout the parenting process.

I am my son's mother, and I believe I am best equipped to make decisions regarding his health until he is old enough to make those decisions on his own. Moms know best. End of story.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Palelo Cucumber Apple Bacon Salad

One day I was hungry, but didn't know what to eat. I opened the fridge and saw I had some apples, a few cucumbers and some bacon. Thus the paleo cucumber apple bacon salad was created!


I baked 6 strips of bacon in the oven (20 minutes at 350 degrees f) until they were fairly crispy. I like my bacon crispy!

Then I chopped up two small green apples and a large cucumber (the same amount of apple as cucumber, a 1:1 ratio), shredded the bacon into small pieces, and combined it all with a pinch of salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of chili powder and about a 1/2 cup of paleo mayo. It made enough for three servings, and the combination of sweet green apples and chilled cucumbers and the salty bacon with the spicy powder is divine!

I am sure I am not the first one to think of this, but to me it was an amazing discovery, and an awesome snack for a hot summer day!