Monday, August 31, 2015

List: Ten ways to get back into school mode.

Ladies and gentlemen, summer break is officially over and school is back in session.
Can you believe that my beloved little God-Mushy is starting Kindergarten next week?  Eep!
This doesn’t just apply to the little munchkins anxiously awaiting their first day of school.
This also applies to the ancient folk (like me!) that are dreading the start of the college semester.
I remember when I had time for school.  Why didn’t I cram more classes in then?!  Ug!

That means that a large part of the population has to snap out of summer mode, like now!
We somehow need to find a way to transition our brains from beaches to school books.
No worries, Jax is going to help you.  I would never leave you hanging like that!!

Ten ways to transition your brain from vacation mode to school mode.

1.  Plan a last hurrah.
There’s no need to quit summer cold turkey.  Let’s gradually transition with a last hurrah.
Plan something fun and summer themed as close to your first day of school as possible.
Please note that I said “as close to your first day” and not “on your first day of school”.

2.  Invest in really cool school supplies.
Put down the black and white composition notebook and reach for something exciting!
Funky pens and pretty notebooks will put a little spunk in your educational duties.
I mean, my Papermate ball point pens with purple ink almost make me WANT to do homework.

3.  Set a goal.
Put a target GPA in your mind or promise yourself you’ll complete all homework assignments early.
By challenging yourself to reach your goals, you may be a little more anxious to start.
Trying to achieve a goal is almost like my own personal game with a scoreboard in my brain!

4.  Reflect on the future.
Choosing to reflect on how you’re advancing your future will put a positive spin on things.
Whether it’s trade school to start a new career, college, or an elective in HS it’s good to reflect.
Speaking of electives, take these seriously kiddos.  They may help you pick your life long career!

5.  Remember-You now have an excuse to NOT do almost anything.
There’s so many times when I don’t want to do something but feel bad declining with a lie.
When you’re in school you have a legitimate reason to decline any dreaded event.
“Jax, want to help me clean out my garage?”  “Um, sorry, I have LOADS of homework to do.”

6.  Look forward to meeting new people.
School and work are great places to make lifelong friends.  Embrace it and look forward to it!
You never know if you’ll be lab partners with your future husband or even a good career contact.
This is always one of the highlights for me.  Even if I don’t meet a BFF, I enjoy socializing.

7.  Stock up on lots of decorations.
Whether it is pimping out your locker or decorating your dorm, go all out and enjoy it.
Remember that it’s your space.  Utilize it and decorate it how YOU want to.
I was never allowed to hang anything on my bedroom walls, so my locker was my favorite spot.

8.  Buy clothes in honor of the new school year.
“Back to school shopping” is definitely an anticipated highlight of the year!
Getting new clothes and shoes to rock in front of classmates makes going back a little easier.
Even my 2 year old little Mushy got real excited.  She kept saying “Like my new shoes?”!!!

9.  Associate something enjoyable with the start of school.
This could be joining a club, a sports team, or even writing for the school paper.
If you don’t like your new thing being related to school, join the gym and make it routine to go.
This will help get you into school mode because you’ll associate it with your enjoyable “thing”.

10.  Plan something to look forward to.
When you have something to look forward to, everything else in the middle seems less horrible.
Plan a fun weekend trip, set a date night, or buy tickets to see your favorite band in concert.
I’m all about distractions to make other things seem less intense!  It’s a tip I learned for my anxiety.


How do you get into school mode after summer vacation?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Discussion: Dying Armpit Hair

There have been countless protests going on lately supporting feminist views.
Come to NY to see the naked women covered in body art.  This support’s woman’s rights??!!
Many of them are extreme, and to be honest, I don’t agree with all of them.
Fact:  A bare-chested woman is never going to be the same thing as a bare-chested male.
You can’t change the entire male species to make (what I think is) a ridiculous point.
Is it so bad that woman wear shirts?  Mine were expensive and I enjoy wearing them!  Sigh…


The newest fad that the feminist extremists are promoting is colorful armpit hair.
Personally, I’m happy to shave my armpits.  In fact, I think men should do it too!!!
It looks like it’s working because this “fad” is becoming increasingly popular.
My Facebook is filled with posts of women flashing their colored pits. Bleh gag barf
Feminist’s attempt to make women’s armpit hair socially acceptable may be working!

I, personally, will never rock neon colored pits without a REALLY good reason.
And by “really good reason”, I mean someone’s life must be depending on it.


What do you think of this feminist trend?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

List: 10 necessities to consider when picking a day care.

When you first start looking into daycares, you’re going to get extremely discouraged.
The average day care takes about half (sometimes more) of your pay check.
It’s important to shop around and to make sure that you know all of your options.
I mean, not only are they super expensive, but they’re taking care of your little mush!

We got lucky enough to stumble across a baby school that is decently priced and all around AMAZING.
…and by reasonably priced, I mean $245/a week that quickly was raised to $265/a week…
My mushy absolutely loves it there and really looks forward to going to school.
She is currently enrolled in and REALLY learning sign language, Spanish, and Zumba.
I’ll never forget when my 9-month old got infuriated that I didn’t understand “more” in sign!
She loves her teachers, classmates, and even her boyfriend!  Yes, she met her first love!

That being said, a day care is supposed to get less expensive the older that they get.
Well, Mushy started at 3mos old, and the price tag keeps on growing.  I feel lied to!
When I learned that this September I was being hit with another 10% increase, I panicked.
As much as I didn’t want to leave the school that we all loved, I started shopping around.
That’s when I compiled my list of Day Care Non-Negotiable Items to help weed out the losers.
Luckily for you all, I decided to share my obviously genius list.  You’re welcome!

Ten non-negotiable items to consider when choosing a day care.

1.  They need to be reasonably located.
Don’t even bother looking into a facility that isn’t in a prime location.
You want a day care that’s either along your route, or only minutes out of the way.
We already have a bazillion things to do before work, let’s not add 20 minutes to our travel time.

2.  They have to have a flawless reputation.
Before even stepping into a facility, make sure you do your research.
Look online and ask around to make sure that this facility your considering is top-notch.
Just one bad review means that the place isn’t good enough for my little mushy!

3.  They need to have a serious security system in place.
The day care must have a way of filtering who goes in and out of their facility.
In addition, they must have cameras, fire drills, evacuation plans, emergency contacts, etc.
This is really important.  Make sure you inquire about all of these.  Safety is #1 priority!

4.  Their teacher to student ratio needs to be reasonable.
Make sure their ratios are not only compliant to state laws, but reasonable.
In addition to primary teachers, there should be plenty of “helpers” assigned to each class.
At our daycare, the teachers communicate via intercom how many kids they have.  Love it!

5.  They have to be reasonably priced.
You need to figure out how much you make and how much of that you’re willing to spend.
Remember that you get what you pay for, but don’t get taken advantage of either!
Bills need to be paid, but there is a price point where it just doesn’t pay to work anymore.

6.  They need to include food and decent meal plans.
While I expected to provide diapers, wipes, and crib sheets, I refused to bring food also.
Tuition must include formula, milk, water, and healthy meal plans or it isn’t worth the money.
Besides, the last thing I need to do is worry about packing four-course meals and snacks!

7.  They need to have a real curriculum with real results.
Ensure that they have a curriculum for each class.  You need to be comfortable with it.
Your baby will be spending everyday there, so they need to be stimulated and learning something!
Our day care is amazing at this.  She really has learned more than I would have been able to teach.

8.  They must give you a daily, DETAILED report.
Ask for a sample copy of their daily report, and make sure it includes all necessary information.
You want to know what they ate, when they were changed, and what activities they did.
There is an application called Tadpoles that is amazing with this.  Ask if they use it!

9.  They must handle “incidents” properly.
There are many incidents that can occur in a day care including accidents or small fights.
They must file a DETAILED incident report, have all parties sign it, and keep it anonymous.
You don’t want to find out their policy sucks after the incident happened.  Make sure you ask!

10.  They must have everything recorded.
To protect your children and to protect their caretakers, it’s vital that a daycare records everything.
It’s helpful when researching an incident or if someone files a formal complaint.
Besides, it’s amazing when you get a picture of your mushy sent to you every day!

What are your daycare non-negotiables?


**Note:  After the daycare caught wind that I was looking elsewhere, they offered to keep me at my current rate.  We’re SO happy because we really do feel comfortable with our baby girl in their care.**

Monday, August 24, 2015

JaxGame: Manliest Man Challenge

As usual, Buddy and I are going at it.
Our most recent "feud" is in regards to the manliest male actor out there.
Turns out he has his version of manly and I got mine.
Clearly I have way better taste in manly men than my straight, male Buddy.  Just sayin...

That being said, we turned our friendly argument into a real life bet.
...and we're talking high stakes here, people!!  Loser buys lunch...

Who better to turn to during this grueling competition than my trusty followers?
I'm leaving my fate and lunch money in your hands!!!

This is how the challenge is going to work.
Buddy and I each picked 3 actors that we feel to be one of the manliest out there.
I'm going to keep our picks anonymous and will list them all for you.
I'm only being anonymous because I know my followers will feel obligated to be loyal.  Right?  Right?!?!
Then, in the comments section you can cast your vote for the manliest actor from our picks.
On Wednesday, I will tally all the votes and announce the winner.

Ok, let's get started!!

1.  Christian Bale


2.  Gerard Butler


3.  Russell Crowe


4.  Chris Hemsworth


5.  Mel Gibson


6.  Dwayne The Rock Johnson


Which of these 6 actors do you think is the "manliest"?

**Note:  This post was originally from July 2012.  Buddy has re-challenged me.  Here comes lunch #2!!**

Friday, August 21, 2015

Jax Seal of Approval: Shutterfly Wedding Albums

We got super lucky to have hired such an amazing photographer for our wedding.
Unfortunately, “amazing” comes with a hefty price tag.
Luckily for us, on top of being very talented, our photographers were also reasonable.
To help ease the financial burden, they only charged us for the labor of snapping the pictures.
At the end of the night they gave us a flash drive and the rights to all of the photographs.
That means-no edited pictures, no prints, and no fancy photo albums for my family or myself.

After the honeymoon, I settled into my favorite nook, and filtered through all of the pictures.
Once I picked my favorite 300 pictures (lol), I was really tempted to call the photographer back.
I was going to beg him to make me prints and albums even though it would cost billions.
I’m not even joking.  To have that done professionally literally cost billions.  Well, almost billions.

Instead of caving, I decided to see what magic I could create myself through Shutterfly.
For a whopping $72, I order 8x10s, 4x6s, 5x7s, and wallets for our entire family and myself.
I printed all 300 pictures plus many additional duplicates to hand out to others.
To put it into perspective, that’s about a $500 savings when ordering through a photographer.

My next venture was to Shutterfly’s search bar where I simply typed “Wedding Album”.
The first thing that came up was a gorgeous wedding album already all laid out for me.
All I had to do was add my information and fill the pages with my own pictures.
Here I was thinking this was going to be crazy hard to do, but Shutterfly made it real easy!


It’s my honor to extend the much desired Jax Seal of Approval to Shutterfly.
No, seriously!  EVERYONE wants to get the Jax Seal of Approval award.  No joke!
The wedding album was not only gorgeous, but it was much more personal.
There’s a page dedicated to a note written to our family from us.
There’s cute sayings and blurbs that I would have never thought to include in an album.
I was ecstatic to find that I had the option of ordering different sized albums for family and ourselves.
For a whopping $380, I ordered five 8x8 albums and one 12x12 album.
To put it into perspective, that’s about a $2500 savings when ordering through a photographer.


Have you or will you try Shutterfly?  What have you used it for?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

List: Ten ways to get back into routine after a vacation.

The wedding ended and the honey moon came and gone.
The next week, I was summoned for jury duty and then I caught a viral infection from my Mushy.
Quickly after that, my aunt passed away so we traveled upstate, NY for the services.
If these things didn’t happen all at once, life would be boring.  Right?!

Needless to say, after a month of not being able to live a normal life, I’m all out of whack.
I’m so far behind in life that I’m not sure how to catch up and get back on schedule.
My bills aren’t meticulously budgeted and my chores are a month behind.
My cubicle at work has stacks and piles of time sensitive tasks left undone.
My blog’s log of posts is empty and my class for school is literally right around the corner.
I’m not even going to mention myself.  I need an emergency hair cut and mani-pedi NOW!

Ten ways to get your life back on track.

1.  Take a deep breath and calm down.
It’s easy to panic when you see mountains of unfinished work and chores laying around.
If you go into panic mode, you’ll make mistakes and take longer to finish.
Meditate for a minute or stop and get a glass of cold water.  Once you’re calm, do step #2.

2.  Evaluate the complete situation.
Before you can begin getting back on track, you need to determine where you’re at.
Brainstorm and make a list of everything that needs to get done in all aspects of your life.
This can be overwhelming.  Stop and calm down again if you need to.  I have anxiety so I get it!

3.  Prioritize the tasks on hand.
The floors may need a good scrubbing, but it’s high priority to deposit your check and pay bills.
Rewrite your list and put the tasks in priority order.  This is especially an important step at work!
This may feel like you’re wasting time, but trust me when I say being organized really helps.

4.  Take lots and lots of breaks.
Playing catch up can be very overwhelming.  Remember it took a month to build that pile of work.
You need to eat, sleep, and take mental breaks.  It’s impossible to do everything in a day, so don’t try.
This is where I always fail, especially at work.  I may have unanswered e-mails, but I still have to pee!

5.  Communicate with the people relying on you.
Maybe you need to cancel a beach day with the girls or reschedule a meeting with your boss.
As long as you communicate and explain the situation, people aren’t going to feel let down.
Remember that everyone had to play catch up at some point in their life.  They’ll totally understand!

6.  Don’t forget about the new tasks coming in.
Getting your life back on track isn’t an excuse to ignore the new tasks coming in.
If you do this, you’ll be right back at step one.  Try and balance your time between new and old tasks.
I have unapplied checks sitting here from a month ago, but I’m still submitting the new ones coming in.

7.  Ask for help and delegate what you can.
This doesn’t mean it’s ok to dump everything on someone else.  But, it is ok to ask for help.
Maybe your spouse can do some extra chores or a friend can entertain your baby for a few hours.
These little shouts for help will really make all the difference in how long this takes you!

8.  Eliminate unnecessary distractions.
Things like your cell phone or your TV set to BRAVO can prove to be an unnecessary distraction.
If you are too busy chatting on the phone or watching TV, you’re not being productive.
My husband hates when my brain gets distracted because it happens often.  Woops!

9.  Set a reasonable date as a target goal.
If I allow myself to think that I have an indefinite amount of time to do something, it doesn’t get done.
On the other hand, if I rush to get stuff done too quick then things aren’t done correctly or completely.
A goal is always a great thing to have for mental reasons.  It helps put everything in perspective!

10.  Live your life following your normal routine.
It’s important to get back into your normal routine as quickly as possible.
This will help you feel normal.  It also will help get things done because your routine probably worked.
It always feels great to settle back into your regular schedule after a long vacation.


How do you get back into your daily routine after a long vacation?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ideas: How to make the perfect baby shower gift basket.

Everyone around me is getting married and having babies.
That means lots of parties and tons of gifts.  Hello good times!

For those of you who know me, you already know that I don’t like to give boring gifts.
I try really hard to think of something unique or personal before giving something expected.
While this is totally true, I disregard my gift giving rule for baby showers.
People have baby showers to get things that they need and to ease a necessary financial burden.
But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun with it by putting together a fabulous gift basket.

Ten steps to create the perfect baby shower gift basket.
 
Step 1:  Pick a theme.
Is this gift for a boy, a girl, or an unknown gender?  What will the theme for your basket be?
Will you purchase a gigantic basket or use a big gift bag?  What colors will you use?
This is a boy’s basket.  I'll use a big gift bag.  The colors are blue and green and the them is memories.

Step 2:  Set a firm budget.
Is this gift for a family member, a bestie, or a casual friend?
What size basket did you want to make and what’s a realistic number to do this?
This basket is for Buddy who I’ve been friends with for several years now.  Budget:  $100.

Step 3:  Purchase your basket or bag and necessary supplies.
This counts towards your budget price, so start with this so you can plan accordingly.
There’s no shame is buying these things that will probably be thrown away at the $1 store!
I got a HUGE baby themed, blue and green gift bag with tissue paper from the dollar store for $3.

Step 4:  Collect lots of baby coupons.
Browse the internet and circulars for as many coupons as possible.
This will help get the most out of your budgeted money because baby things are REAL expensive.
I stuck the unused coupons in a little envelope for my friend.  Trust me, he’ll need them!

Step 5:  Shop a reputable clothing store’s clearance section.
A store’s clearance section doesn’t mean out of style clothes, it means change of season.
Purchase at least 2 season appropriate outfits in larger sizes because they’ll get lots of NB clothes.
I rocked Baby Gap's clearance section and got (2) nice outfits in size 6-9mos for $20!

Step 6:  Purchase at least 2-3 necessity items.
This is where you’re coupons are really going to come in handy.  Don’t forget to check circulars too!
Necessity items are relatively inexpensive, but they’re needed in the baby world.
At Target I purchased large sizes of Johnson’s lotion, powder, and a soft tip medicine dispenser for $15.

Step 7:  Purchase 1-2 theme related items.
Depending on your theme, these items will be the most expensive so shop around.
If your theme is play, get toys.  If your theme is safety, a car mirror is essential.  Be unique!
My theme was memories so I got a blue and green photo album and a baby’s firsts book to fill in for $35.

Step 8:  Purchase diapers or wipes.
Since you’re reaching the end of the budget, calculate how much money you have left.
Depending on your balance, buy a bulk package of diapers or wipes since they’ll use them the most.
I bought a bulk box of Luv’s size 2 diapers from Target for $18 after coupons and the cartwheel!

Step 9:  Buy your finishing touches.
This is where you should buy a themed card.  Write a touching note, add the coupons, and attach!
If money is left over, spend it on decorations or one small, themed filler item.
The card was $3, so I spent my last $6 on a baby themed picture frame for a wallet print.

Step 10:  Put the basket together.
If you went the basket route, make sure every item is meticulously displayed and taped down.
If you went the gift bag route, wrap each item in tissue paper and place neatly in the bag.
I topped my gift bag with green and blue tissue paper triangles and curled ribbon that I already had.


What do you usually gift for a baby shower?

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