Enjoying Life on a Budget…or…Hooray for Booze!

Living on a budget stinks. No two ways about it. It stinks. We have been doing this for….well, almost forever…. Every now and then my husband and I go over everything. We try to make a plan that is realistic. We try to convince ourselves that it doesn’t stink. But it still does.

We try to see it from a positive side-what we cut back on now will open up possibilities for us down the road, we’re being responsible, blah blah blah.

What we really feel like, though, is this:




Maybe we’re alone in this, but a lot of the time it just feels like we are in a constant state of denial.

‘No’ we can’t eat out…

‘No’ we can’t really afford to do X, Y, or Z…

‘No’ we can’t buy ____ for ourselves or the kids…


See what I mean? No fun.

There is one thing that we do let ourselves have-not without limits, of course, I mean-we are on a budget…(and we have kids).  That one thing is booze.


Booze!!! Hooray for booze!!!


When you don’t get to go out (ever), when you don’t get to order food just because you don’t feel like cooking, when you are trapped-I mean- fortunate enough-to be at home with three young children, a glass of wine at the end of the day is like salvation.

It can become your goal. You think “Only a few more hours and then they’ll all be in bed, they’ll be quiet, and I can sit down at the computer by myself with a glass of wine and ignore my husband while I catch up on Facebook.” Now, that, is motivation.

That being said, I would like to share my motivation with you! Here are some of my favorite budget wines! Just so you know, I am a big fan of the box o’ wine-good deals to be had there. Plus they supposedly last for weeks! I don’t know personally because mine always seem to, um,…evaporate…*cough*  Hey! Look over there!!





A big thanks to Mark and everyone else over at Nutmeg Liquors for giving me some great suggestions and letting me walk around taking pictures and mumble to myself! Swing by the store if you are ever in Western CT!

I have included a printable version of my Guide if you want to carry it around as a reference…may I suggest laminating it for prolonged usage and protection from the inevitable spilled wine.

If you get the chance, respond and share your favorite budget booze! (I’m sure there will be a follow up with beer and other stuff at some point-share whatever you want now!)

Mary’s Guide to Budget Wines


An Ode to Aaron Rodgers

A little background on the inspiration for this poem: I love the Green Bay Packers. I have since high school. I was a big fan of that other guy who used to play for them, and when he left I, like just about everyone else in the world, rallied around the New Hope-Aaron Rodgers. Not only was he wicked cute, he was talented. So talented that a lot of us were like- “He’s the BACKUP guy?!!?? Alright!!!”

So what do have so far….right-wicked cute, talented, seems to be pretty laid back and has a good sense of humor. Yup-I’m a big fan. So, take a big fan, add a little daydreaming, and then show me a picture of him every time I log out of Facebook? (via State Farm ad-I’m not that creepy!!) Viola! Inspiration for an Ode!! Now, don’t expect a Shakespearean sonnet here-this is me having fun… Enjoy!


An Ode to Aaron Rodgers


It’s Fall in Green Bay and one thing is the same

We’re all excited for the big game.


Wrapped in your coat on the sideline

Just for a moment I pretend you are mine.


The air is cold, but you are hot

You’re on my mind even if the game is not.


With every grunt and every pass

I try to avert my eyes from your…*cough*…


Leading a team based on cheese

The people- the owners- you aim to please.


Your smile, charm and talent have been noted-

It’s safe to say the nation is devoted.


Touchdown after touchdown-oh yes, you like to keep

Your receivers busy doing the Lambeau Leap.


Your arm is strong, your aim is true

Moving down the field so fast it’s as if you flew.


In the pocket you duck and weave, avoiding the sack

Running it in as you score one for the Pack.


We hope Green Bay wins, but if they run out of luck,

It’s OK-just remember that the Bears still suck.


Hey big guy, bad days and interceptions happen to the best,

Don’t worry, I’ll comfort you, just lay against my…*cough*…


Yes, my husband knows of my obsession

In fact, he has made the concession


That if he should happen to die

Aaron could be my back up guy.


Oh, Aaron, along side Jordy and Clay-forgive me if I may be so bold-

You all look damn fine suited up in the Green and Gold.


Yes, Aaron Rodgers, I am struck once again by your eyes of blue,

And after a few glasses of wine, my husband starts to look like you.



Showing Thanks Part 2

I remember asking friends and family before the storm if I was being too cavalier or if everyone else was overreacting in their preparations for Sandy. It has become exceedingly clear that I (along with others) did not take it as seriously as we should have. That night as I sat in our house watching our windows flex, feeling my ears pop, watching the trees outside bend at an almost 90° angle I realized that this was a majorly big deal. The winds were much stronger than they predicted and I just kept wishing it would stop.

We lost two big trees, and although one came within a few feet of the house, the only damage that we know of now is a broken fence. We’ll see what happens when the tree is removed. We were very lucky-four days without power, we lost a small amount of food, and some fencing was broken. 

Since we didn’t have power we couldn’t really see what was happening to the rest of the east coast. We couldn’t see how whole communities were being washed away, or burning to the ground. We couldn’t see the unnatural darkness of New York City. Now that we have seen it, I doubt I will be able to forget those images.

Again, it has taken a horrible, devastating act to put our experience in perspective-to remind me again for all of the things I am Thankful for. (If you are curious and missed the original Showing Thanks you can click here).

I am so, so, so very Thankful for my family and their safety. For my friends, their families and their safety. For my home, for the power that keeps it warm, allows for running water, the ability to flush a toilet.

I am Thankful for the fact that I was able to make Excellent Meatballs for my family tonight in my own kitchen (I HIGHLY recommend them! Here’s the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/excellent-meatballs-recipe/index.html. I don’t use the veal-I just use ¾ lb of ground beef and ¾ lb of ground pork. )

I am once again Thankful to our friends Allison and Steve for taking us in when our power was out. I hope that next October does not cement this as a yearly tradition.

I am Thankful for knowing that my parents are close enough that I can always take the kids there and they will be warm, fed, and loved.

Now for some more trivial things-I’ll just list them:

Flannel sheets

Wine in a box (Gato Negro-check it out-pretty high quality for a low price!)

Halloween candy


Romance novels

Wool socks and slippers

New running clothes-kept me toasty warm today!

Sam Adams Winter Lager (hmmm….sensing a theme here)

Fresh packages of SAF-Red instant yeast

The internet-as heartbreaking as some of the images are, I am at least more aware of what has been happening. That isn’t trivial, but being able to go to People.com to take a break from the devastation and read about celebrity junk is helpful sometimes.


I am so incredibly Thankful that I live in America. Too many reasons to list. Super big one, though, is the way that the country has rallied around this area-and others-when they were hurting. I do believe in the basic goodness of people and that most people want to be able to help if they can. I have been astounded by the way just our community has come together to help each other as neighbors and how they have continued to do so by planning fundraisers and organizing relief efforts. It makes me want to be a better person-and I’m sure it is having that affect on others as well.

I am also so Thankful that I have the right and the ability to vote. Election day is coming up quickly and I hope that everyone else remembers that they, too, have the ability and the right to make their voices heard, and that they get their butts to the voting booths to exercise that right! Especially YOU, LADIES!!! Don’t forget that it wasn’t too long ago that we did not have the right to do that!!! VOTE!!!

I am Thankful that I have the chance to write this post-that I have a home to be in, a chair to sit on and a computer to record my thoughts. My heart goes out to all of you who have been affected by the Hurricane-especially tonight as the temperature gets colder.

I am Thankful that I have this group who is willing to listen to my thoughts. Please join me in Showing Thanks by donating to the Red Cross, any other reputable group, or a grass roots relief effort that is probably being set up as we speak in your very own town. We need to show our thanks for what we have by helping lift those up who lost so much.


Much love to you and yours!






Halloween Sandy

It’s almost Halloween again and for the second year in a row we are expecting a huge storm the likes of which we have never seen. A storm so big that there is no hope of survival. A storm so big that the only thing you can do is pray and hug your children. Actually, there is one thing you can do:




So that’s what’s happening around us in the Northeast right now. Don’t get me wrong-it’s important to be prepared and have some water and food on hand, know where the flashlights are and some candles. Be prepared, but also realistic about the fact that you live in New England and storms happen-and even last year when we personally lost power for a week, the stores had generators so you could buy daily essentials, the town had emergency shelter and power-it wasn’t fun, but it was doable. (Full disclosure-it was easier for us than others because very good friends of ours-and their neighbors-let us stay with them. The baby was too little to be that cold and dirty).


So we’ve been getting ready, doing all the stuff I just mentioned, but also talking to the kids about it so they are aware.


Of course their big concern is Halloween and Trick-or-Treating. Above all, think about the candy. Even though the end is nigh, we have been trying to get them excited and in the spirit. Carving pumpkins, dressing up, making decorations for the house. My husband got in on the action today and drew a haunted house with our son. He made the shape and our little guy drew in some ghosts, a witch on a broom, some scary pumpkins-spooooky stuff.


Then our son drew a vampire. Apparently one of his new friends at school is going to dress up as one for Halloween. My husband could tell that the idea kind of freaked him out a bit, but they started talking about the other vampire he knew (the Count from Sesame Street), and then they realized that the vampire was in the room of the Haunted House that our son had said was the bathroom. (A ghost was taking a shower-awesome). So my husband, my darling, college faculty husband goes:

“You know what vampires do in the bathroom, right?”

Son: “No, what?”


I heard the exchange and I just KNEW what he was going to say. Wait for it….


Husband: “VAM-POOPING!!!”


The two of them both became five years old, just laughing and laughing. One would start slowing down and then the other would just spurt out:


Then they would start all over again… It was almost over when my husband, my darling, goes:

“You know what else they do?”

Son: “No, what?”

Husband: “VAM-PEEING!!!! HAHAHAHA!!!”


Hilarity ensues again….*sigh*….



Happy Halloween! Be safe out there!!!




(And in case you were concerned, the boys both decided that Vam-poop and Vam-pee go down the Vam-plumbing. I’m sure we’ll all sleep better tonight knowing that mystery is solved.)



Showing thanks

Today has not started out as a good day.

I can’t breathe through my right nostril, which made it really hard to sleep last night.

My husband had to work really late last night (yay tech rehearsals!), so added to the regular night wakings of the kids I was sleeping lightly waiting for him to get home safely.

Last night was basically this: Sleep, nurse, half-listen for husband, sleep, snuggle bad dream away, sleep. Not super restful-especially with half a nose. My husband must have sensed this because even though he was home very late last night he refused my offer to let him sleep and he got up with the kids. It was great-a little extra sleep would really help today.

Well, it would have helped if I hadn’t been woken up a short time later by a massive tantrum thrown by our son about cereal.  It went on for quite a while. No more sleeping for me.

So I’m up and I’m cranky. I get crankier when our big girl decides that throwing tantrums is awesome and she’s going to throw one, too.

One nostril, 2 cranky big kids, a baby who is rather clingy these days, and a husband who is heading off to work.  NOT how I had hoped to start today. I had wanted to GET OUT and run this morning but the half-nose and rain deterred me.  Now I am extra cranky. Great.

To escape for a minute I check my facey pages. Some funny stuff which helps, some political stuff that for me (a Democrat) is encouraging-the general going-ons of my friends and family. I’m feeling a little lighter.

Then I see a post on a community page for my town. It’s an update about a little girl-a baby- who is just one year old and has been fighting rhabdoid cancer for a while now. Unfortunately the update is not a good one. The chemo treatment at St. Judes didn’t work and she is coming home to be surrounded by her family and those who love her. It is absolutely heartbreaking. I am crying as I type this. I cannot help but take my baby and imagine her in that situation.

It shouldn’t take something so crushingly sad and unnecessary to make me look at my life more clearly, but sometimes it does. When that happens we usually give thanks or offer prayers that our own family is not experiencing this or any other horrible situation.

Today, though, I am going to really try to show my thanks. Not just say “We are so lucky” and give the kids a kiss.

Today I am going to really try to show that I am thankful for the fact that my kids are healthy enough to go to school. Healthy enough to throw massive tantrums. That my baby is healthy enough to run around the house trying to find me-just because she wants to be with me.

Right now I am aware that there are so many parents who would literally give their own life if their child had the strength to do any one of those things. I will try to be equally aware of the wonderful gifts I have-healthy children, a husband who loves and supports me, food, shelter. I will show my thanks by nurturing all of those things…even with just one nostril.


Now, I know that it is almost impossible to appreciate a tantrum. Screams are not fun; conflict is not what I would call a ‘good time’-but I recently learned that (and this may be obvious to some of you already, but this perspective was new to me) conflict with/in children is actually a good thing sometimes. Apparently, it goes hand-in-hand with personal growth in a child.

So I’ll try to remember that. They are growing, evolving, and learning. I will try to show thanks for that by not getting to level 8 frustration levels right off the bat. I will show my thanks that they have the strength to evolve and grow.

I’ll finish by saying the usual stuff: hug your kids extra tight, give your partner an extra kiss, etc. I’ll go one further and ask that you show your thanks and your love to your friends, your parents. Try to find the positive in your job, your home, the fact that you can breathe through your whole nose.


Don’t just give thanks for what you have-SHOW IT.


A final thought:

If you are interested in helping out the family I mentioned earlier, donations can be made here:


or mailed here:

Alexa Ocskasy Custodial Account
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
211 Greenwood Avenue
Bethel, CT 06801

Both parents have taken leave from work to care for their baby. Anything is welcome and appreciated.

More information can also be found here:


Much love to you and yours!!




I Am Le Tired

So, as you may have noticed, I am making an effort to GET OUT. Hence, this blog. Hence my recent trip out to try and find reasonably priced winter running clothes that won’t make me look 40lbs heavier and will actually keep me warm. (TJMaxx-you failed me).

I have great intentions to GET OUT. I am also so very, very tired.

My children are, for the most part, just great. We’ve gotten through some rough behavior issues and have come out better people…or whatever the books say we should be feeling at this point. They are curious, sweet, and funny. They are also horrible sleepers. I haven’t really slept in like 6 years.

The best part (said with great irony) is that somehow, even though the baby cannot really speak, even though my son almost incapable of keeping a secret (he gets that from his Dad), even though my big girl (3yrs) doesn’t really have any concept of time, somehow they are able to intricately plan a schedule so they all wake up at separate times throughout the night. Not only at separate times, but they are also able to sense when I have juuuust barely fallen back to sleep.

It’s impressive.

This is a general idea of my day:

5:30am-wake up when my spidey sense somehow alerts me to the fact that my son is now awake. I try to ignore him.

5:45am-try to put baby back to sleep-she seems to have inherited my spidey sense.

6am-push husband so he turns off alarm and gets up with son and big girl who have been laying in bed waiting for the clock to turn to SIX-ZERO-ZERO.

**My husband and I have made many spoken deals with the kids about wake up times, and one important unspoken rule with each other. Mainly that no matter when the big kids wake up (they share a room), they have to stay in bed quietly and not wake anyone else up, until the clock reads SIX-ZERO-ZERO. Are you done laughing yet? You shouldn’t be-it’s HI-larious to honestly ask a small child to lay quietly in their bed for upwards of 30-45 minutes-but we are so desperate for sleep we are willing to try ANYTHING. The next deal is vitally important-it states (in my head-which is TOTALLY AND LEGALLY BINDING) that because I am getting up at night with the children I do not get up with them in the morning. We like to pretend that this is actually so my husband can spend some nice quality time with them before the day gets going, but in truth it is because if he didn’t I would turn into some demon born of hellfire.**

So, between 6:30-7ish I get up for the day and from that point on there is:


All. Day. Long.


I’ll grant you that there is a small break during nap, a small break that I cherish. Beyond that is the wall of noise until bed.

Then I get a few hours of semi-quiet, with occasional wake ups from the kids, then I’m off to bed myself.

Where I get very short sessions of lovely sleep until the baby cries and even though she is eating more than a toddler and some small adults, she just HAS to be nursed. After she is settled and I am dozing off someone has a bad dream. Fears snuggled away, I return to my bed where I drift off. Until my darling husband rolls onto his back and proceeds to serenade me with his imitation of an elephant. After poking and pushing at him until he rolls over again, I snuggle into the covers, until the baby wakes again…you get the idea.

I’ve gotten 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep twice in the past year or so. Twice.

I am le tired.

Now, I know that I am not without blame for the night wakings-and I could change them, but anyone who has been where I am knows that the idea of getting even less sleep is heartbreaking. Right now I prefer to look at the night snuggles as a bonus and go to bed with hope. Hope that tonight will be different and everyone will sleep and I’ll wake up with enough energy to finish my ‘To-Do’ list and GET OUT by myself.

Are you done laughing yet? No? Yeah, I know, it’s HI-larious.

Happy sleeping!!!

Talking to myself

So, in my one of my previous posts I mentioned this list I had made-the list where I really put into words my need to GET OUT.  Yes-it will always be in caps. That’s how strong my need is.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I do leave the house occasionally. I do chat with people on the phone and via Facebook and email…but it’s never uninterrupted, it’s almost always about generalities or stuff regarding the kids’ schedules.


It’s very rarely about, well, me. 


And you know what? I am slowly coming to accept that thinking about ‘me’ is not a bad thing.  I know that most of us moms have read somewhere that we will be better mothers, partners, people, blah, blah, blah, if we take some time for ourselves. (And yes, I am talking to my imaginary readers at this point).  Easier said than done.


Here’s the thing, though.  I haven’t been doing this and I could literally feel my shoulders fusing with my ears because I am so tense.  I am snappy with my loved ones.  I kept having this thought come into my head “I need to be doing something MORE”.  Now, this is very different than the usual ‘more’ to do.  I already know that there will always be more laundry, cleaning, refereeing, disciplining, and cooking to do.  That’s always there-but what was also always there was this thought that I was losing a part of myself.  That there were great whole sections of me that I hadn’t really looked at or thought about for a very long time.  I wanted to do MORE with who I am. 


Insight into my head (brace yourself): I like getting ideas.  Ideas are full of possibility.  Ideas haven’t been trashed by reality or budgets or real plans.  I like BIG IDEAS.  So when I thought about MORE, it wasn’t in a “start a journal/blog/writing letters to friends” way.  It wasn’t in a “bake more bread for your friends, because baking makes you happy” way.  Nope.  It was in a “START A WHOLE NEW MAIL ORDER BAKING BUSINESS-NO WAIT-LOCAL BREAD BUSINESS-NO WAIT-YOU NEED A LOGO-BUY A WEBSITE-GET CARDS-GET DISCOURAGED BECAUSE IT WASN’T ALL DONE YESTERDAY!! AHHHHH!!!” type of way. 


So I was back at square one, discouraged.  And then, late one night, I made the list.  The big realization of the list was that I needed to GET OUT.  I have started running again, but I realized that running twice a week for a few miles wasn’t enough-I needed to just get out of the house, be BY MYSELF almost everyday-even if just for 15 minutes.  I needed to GET OUT of my head and write something down- to vent, to share, to laugh.  


I needed to talk to Grown Ups.  As of right now I’m just talking to myself-and that’s OK for now. Hopefully, sometime soon, other people who need to GET OUT will join in my conversation.  But, for now, talking to myself as Grown Up is good enough.

The cow says “Moof”

Our youngest is about 15 months old.  She is a wicked smart little girl, if I do say so myself.  Right now she loves doggies, probably because she can say “woof”.  See? I told you-a genius.

With the success of ‘woof’ I decided that she was ready for more animal sounds. Cow, sheep, kitty, horsy, piggy-you name it- I was going to throw them at her and she was going to nail it!! I mean, c’mon-this was the baby (the only one of our 3) who really took to baby sign language. This girl can sign ‘all done’ and ‘more’ and-wait for it- ‘thank you’ like nobody’s business. We were going to OWN animal sounds.

This is how it goes:

Me: What does the doggy say?

Baby: Woof! Woof!

 *We high-5*

Me: What does the cow say?

Baby: Woof! (looking pleased) Woof!

Me: No, sweetie, the cow says ‘Moooo!’

Baby: (looking concerned) Woof.

Me: Cow MOOO

Baby: Woof. (dead pan face)

Me: No-cow goes MOOOOOOO (because saying it longer will help….right)

Baby: (super serious) Woof.

Me: Moooooooooooo.

Baby: Long pause. Smile. ‘Moof’. Signs “All done” and walks away, which, to me, is the baby equivalent of dropping the mic and giving a ‘Peace out’ sign off.

The cow says “Moof”.

No, seriously, I’ll really lose it.


So, here I am. I have let myself get to the point where if I don’t GET OUT (as I am calling it in my head and on the list I made), then I don’t know what will happen. I am having a visceral reaction to not getting OUT for so long….so here I am.

I know myself too well to even try and lie and say that I won’t share this with others, or ask people to read it, so I’ll give you some background on me and my need to GET OUT.

Hi! My name is Mary. I am a stay at home mom with three kids ages 5 and younger.  I love to bake bread. I am passionate about the environment. I believe in voicing your opinion about politics and the government.  I love reading romance novels-especially ones based in Regency era England.  I am tired of living on a budget.  I am trying my hardest to raise my children to be kind, speak their mind, and be happy.  Well, most days I try really hard, but honestly, there are days when I can only give the bare minimum.  I have a great husband and we are fortunate enough that we don’t have to worry about food, shelter, or health care. I recognize that we are very lucky and I appreciate all we have.

I also recognize that if I don’t start having regular contact with Grown Ups as well as some sort of outlet I will lose my mind.

So, here I am! This is just about me and my life. I feel better already.

That being said, I have to go and color now.