Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Life of a Full-Time Working Mom And Her Extreme Commute




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I'm from New York City and he is from the country bumpkin outskirts of Southern New Jersey.  When we married, the only logical thing to do was to find a home that would serve as a half-way point to our families and commutes to work (Check out my About Me page). 

We chose Central New Jersey.  His commute was 40 minutes each way.  My commute was approximately 2 hours each way.  Hardly a half way point, but we made it work.

Three years later, we had a baby girl and named her Selah.  She is one of God's greatest gifts to me and I knew that going back to work after the customary 3 months was not going to work for me.  So, I took 6 months off.  Then, I went back part-time.....for a month.  Then my typical weekday life began to play out like this:

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4:55am - I wake up, read a bible verse and commentary on my First 5 app and write my thoughts on the subject.

5:00am - I go to the bathroom, shower, brush my teeth, etc.  If I have time and if I remember, I will spend 5 minutes doing a quick 'swish and swash' to maintain the cleanliness of our bathroom.

5:30am - I get my clothes out and iron them and otherwise prepare myself to get dressed.

5:45am - Our darling Selah is usually up by now, so I let her sit on the potty for a while before washing her up and getting her dressed.

6:00am - I get dressed and prepare to leave.

6:15am - My alarm goes off.  That means I need to finish wrapping up any loose ends, kiss my family goodbye and head out the door.  I walk 1/2 mile to the bus.  I usually listen to a sermon podcast during my morning commute.  (TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer & Rick Warren are my favorites.)

6:35am - I catch the 606 to Hamilton Rail Station and wait for the train.

6:56am - I continue listening to my podcast, check emails, look at social media and sleep during my train ride into NYC.

7:15am - My husband drops our daughter off at daycare and then heads to work himself.  He changed jobs 6 months ago, so his commute is now about 20 minutes.

7:58am - Although the train is scheduled to arrive in New York Penn Station at 7:58am, it rarely does.  Either way, once I get off of the train, I walk approximately 2 miles to my job.  In extreme weather conditions, I catch the subway.

8:00am - My husband arrives at work and sends me a text to let me know he made it there safely.

8:20am - I arrive at work, text my husband, make my tea and then get to work!

12:30pm - I usually take a lunch break at this time.  My lunch break typically consists of running errands and then scarfing food down my throat while I work because my lunch break is over.  Sometimes I do the opposite.  I'll eat food at my desk while I work, then I'll leave the job and run errands during my lunch break.

5:00pm - I pack up my bags and I head home, starting with a 2 mile walk back to the NJ Transit Station.  I usually listen to an educational podcast during my commute home.  At the current time, my only exception is Serial.  Every other podcast I listen to is spiritual or educational in some way.

5:28pm - I catch my train home.  If I wasn't able to complete my work, I may pull out my laptop on the train.  Otherwise, I use this time to catch up on emails, social media and reading.  I always text my husband to let him know I'm on the train.

6:29pm - I arrive at Hamilton Station.  Either my husband picks me up (after picking up our daughter) and we ride home together or my husband picks up my daughter and starts dinner, while I catch the 6:58pm bus. 

6:45pm/7:15pm - If I catch the bus, I get home between 7:15pm and 7:30pm.  We eat dinner as a family as soon as I get in.

7:30pm - After dinner, I may spend 5 minutes clearing off plates and then I give the baby about 15 minutes to digest her food.

7:45pm - I run the bath water, bathe, lotion, dress, pray and put the baby to sleep.  Our target bed time is 8:00pm, but we run behind some weekdays and she goes to bed closer to 8:30pm (but rarely after 9pm).

8:30pm - I spend about 30 minutes straightening up (when I have the energy to do so) and then I have about an hour before it's time for me to wrap things up and get to bed.

10:00pm - This is my 'bed time.'  I read a scripture or lesson of some sort, say my prayers and hit the sack.
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So, as you can see, my weekdays are pretty jam packed.  In a typical week, I only get to spend 1-2 hours with my daughter on any given weekday (This excludes Wednesday, since I work from home on Wednesdays.)

When I think of those numbers, I feel a bit bad because it's hard to imagine how anyone could consider a way to balance work, life and motherhood with this type of schedule.  However, I make it work and this is how I do it.

  • Much to my husband's dismay, I prioritize spending time with my family over cleaning the house.  I also prioritize spending time with my family over spending time with colleagues and friends, as well as pursuing time-consuming projects outside of the home. I also prioritize spending time with my family over the many beauty regimens I used to have pre-baby (ie. bi-weekly hair salon visits, which now only happen once a quarter).
  • I cherish those early morning and before bed times with my precious little angel.  People may think that I'm extra because I massage her with lotion every night and hug and kiss and rock her after we say our prayers and before I put her in the crib.  Well, I don't care!  These are the memories you remember.  I still remember my mom laying between my sister and I every night when we were little kids and reciting the Lord's Prayer with us.
  • I talk to her.  Every morning, I ask how her night was.  Every evening, I ask how her day in school was.  She's not able to fully articulate her responses yet, but she does respond.  She knows that mommy cares and mommy tries to incorporate herself in every aspect of her life.....including her dreams.
  • The weekends are hers!  Yes, my husband and I have occasional date nights when we hire a babysitter, so that we can paint the town red.  Yes, we take full advantage when her day care offers Parent's Night Out events where they keep her until 9:30pm on a Friday night.  However, those are far and few between and rarely more than once a month.  On the weekends, we plan activities with her and we spend time at home with her.  We eat every meal together and we pray before every meal together.  We dance together and we laugh together.  We watch the same old Sesame Street clips together and we color together.
So, how do you balance being a full-time working woman (with an extreme commute) and motherhood?  You don't!  You take it one day at a time, you do everything unto God and you make sure that you prioritize the time you do have.

To be honest, I probably will cut my hours at some point or increase my work-from-home days in the near future.....especially if I have a second child.  One of the reasons I focus so much on personal finance is because I would love to be in a place where it wasn't about the money.  I would love to be in a place where I could take an even longer time from work of cut my hours to part-time (I probably would never be a stay-at-home mom, even if I could afford it.) and not have to worry about how we will pay our bills each month.  However, we are not there YET.  So for now, I juggle the best way I know how.

How about you?  How do you balance motherhood and working?  If you're not a working mom, how do you balance motherhood and other responsibilities?  Tips and ideas are always welcomed!

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This post is part of a blog hop where a group of bloggers are all sharing on similar topics (Working Mom, How to Balance). To find more inspiration, check out these awesome blogs:
Daily Momtivity (http://dailymomtivity.com)
The Buccio Clan (www.thebuccioclan.com)
Peaches and Pickles (www.peachesandpickles.org)
Simple at Home (Simpleathome.com)
Sara B Nash (http://www.sarabnash.com)
Craft Create Calm (http://www.craftcreatecalm.com)
Multitasking Mom (http://www.themultitaskingmomsite.net)
LedyLiz (http://ledyliz.com)
Home Maid Simple (http://homemadesimple.com)
Sweet Discord (http://www.sweetdiscord.com)
Smart Mom, Smart Ideas (http://smartmomsmartideas.com)
Misty Shaheen (http://mistyshaheen.com)
Angela Coleman Sherman (http://www.thenonhousewives.com)
Melissa Hunt (http://www.deuxbella.com)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My February 2016 Reads



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I have one of the same goals in 2016 as I had in 2015. 

Read one book per month.

It worked well for me last year, though I did miss a few months, and I would like to continue this same goal this year.

In December 2015, I started a book called
I Will Teach You To Be Rich.  This book is written by Ramit Sethi and is described as a 6-week personal finance program that works.  I continued this book in January 2016, but still have a few more chapters to finish.  Because it is a book that requires action and I have been reviewing each chapter on my blog, it is taking longer than usual to complete.  Therefore, one of my reads for February 2016 is I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.


 
 


​​​​​As part of our Christmas tradition, there are two items that the people in my household receives every Christmas eve.
1) Pajamas
2) A book

This year, I decided to get my husband an
adult coloring book with colored pencils.  I brought my daughter a Melissa & Doug coloring book and jumbo triangular crayon set.  My husband gave me two books. 
 
One of which is based on T.D. Jakes #1 New York Times Best Seller entitled, Instinct: The Power to Unleash your Inborn Drive.  This is not the actual book, but rather the Daily Readings version of this book that provides 100 insights that will uncover, sharpen and activate your instincts.  I started this in January 2016 and will continue reading an excerpt each day until I finish.  According to my calculations, the 100th day of 2016 is April 9th, so be prepared to hear about INSTINCT Daily Readings: 100 Insights That Will Uncover, Sharpen and Activate Your Instincts for the next few months. Since each reading is only 2-3 pages, I will still be able to add a new book each month, without causing too much of an inconvenience.
 


 

The second book that my husband gave me is entitled, Make It Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose., by Lara Casey.  I’ve never heard of this book or author, but apparently it got 4 ½ out of 5 stars on Amazon.  Also, a very popular lifestyle blogger (Mattie James of Mattieologie.com) mentioned this on her Periscope about her list of "to read" books for 2016.  Judging by these indications, I think this’ll be a good one to read.  Plus, my husband clearly has an idea of the things I struggle with and is attempting to provide me with assistance in overcoming my fears and taking the leap.  J  I will definitely give a full review once I am done.
 
 
 What books are you reading in February 2016?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I Will Teach You To Be Rich..... Starting With Conscious Spending



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FACT: You cannot become rich wealthy without controlling your spending....consciously. 

I cross out rich because, in my eyes, rich is temporary and is seldom beneficial long term.  Many athletes, celebrities and lottery winners are rich, but if they do not practice conscious spending, then they are not rich for long.

According to a 2010 study by researchers at Vanderbilt University, the University of Kentucky and the University of Pittsburgh, the more money you win in the lottery, the more likely you are to end up bankrupt.  As a matter of fact, according to this study published in The Review of Economics and Statistics, many of them become bankrupt within 5 years of scoring a big win.

The average professional athlete in the United States will make more in one season than most of us earn in our entire lives.  However, according to Wyatt Investment Research, 78% of NFL players, 60% of NBA players and a large percentage of MLB players file bankruptcy within five years of retirement.

Most people's stinking thinking causes them to assume that they are broke because they don't make enough money.  However, according to my research, more money does not fix financial problems.

What does, then? CONSCIOUS SPENDING
Of course I'm oversimplifying things a bit.  However, if you read any of the articles or books about the habits of wealthy people with a net worth over a million (especially those who had modest income levels during their working years), you will find that one of the main ways they were able to save and invest their way into millions was to consciously spend on the money they earned, so that a large portion of it could be used to build their wealth.


In chapter 4 of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi focuses on conscious spending.  Although Ramit calls it conscious spending and says that he doesn't use budgets, the bottom line is that he does.....and you need to, as well, if you want to be rich and win with money.  He says that conscious spending is deciding where you want to spend your money up front, instead of spending it on random things here and there.  Deciding what you don't love and are not that important to you, so that you can cut back mercilessly on those things, in order to have money to spend luxuriously on those things that are important to you.

So here are the steps that Ramit suggests to create a Conscious Spending Plan:

Step 1: Create 4 major buckets where your money will go. 














Step 2: List every expense that you can think of that falls under the 'Fixed cost' category and fill in the dollar amounts for each.  A good rule of thumb is that your fixed costs should be 50-60% of your take-home pay. 

Once you've gotten all your expenses filled in, add 15% for unexpected expenditures or items you may have overlooked.  According to Ramit, a flat 15% will cover you for things you haven't figured in and you can get more accurate as time goes on.

Once you've got a fairly accurate number here, subtract it from your take-home pay.  Now you'll know how much you'll have left over to spend in the other categories.  Plus, you'll have an idea of a few targeted expense areas that you can cut down on to give yourself more money to save, invest and do the other things you love (See how this kind of sounds like a budget to me?).

Step 3: A good rule of thumb is to invest 10% of your take-home pay for the long-term.  For the record, long-term investing typically means 401(k), Roth IRA and other retirement-type savings vehicles

Calculate the amount and automate it.

Step 4: Short-term savings could be things like Christmas gifts, a vacation, a wedding or a down payment on a house.  This should be no more than 5-10% of your take home pay.

Calculate the amounts for the various accounts and automate a separate savings account for each.

Step 5: Feel free to spend whatever is left on whatever tickles your fancy!  If you want to use that money to invest more, do it.  If you prioritize travel over early retirement, hit up every country in the world.  Sky is the limit!  You can spend guilt free because all of your obligations are already taken care of. (Word to the wise: Just don't overdraft)

I should mention that if you don't make enough to fit in these to categories, you need to do one of two things:
  1. Find a way to cut back some of your expenses.
  2. Find a way to make more money.
Ramit offers some great ideas in his book on cutting expenses, negotiating higher salaries and freelancing.

Read my previous blogs for more information about Ramit Sethi's, I Will Teach You To Be Rich.  Below is an outline of the topics covered in previous chapters and a link to my blog post about each chapter/topic.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Get Your Life Right in 90 Days......With Me



Welcome to This is me…..Then!  If you like what you see, subscribe here for free updates, or you can “like” my Facebook page here and receive new posts in your news stream.  Once you like my page, you can choose to see posts in your newsfeed first or receive a notification for each post made.  Thanks for visiting!  This post may contain affiliate links.

Chalene Johnson, the best-selling author of Push: 30 Days to Turbocharged Habits, a Bangin' Body, and the Life You Deserve! , has just released a 90-Day system and accompanying workbook/planner that promises to teach you how to set a PUSH goal and achieve all of your goals in 90 days or less! According to the website, Chalene’s workbook takes you step-by-step through the process of setting goals for the key areas of life as well as how to set a PUSH Goal – a goal that makes all your other goals possible. It will help you map a course of action, so you know exactly what you need to do every day to achieve all of your goals in 90 Days or less!
 
Last week, Chalene provided an overview of the process on Periscope and provided FREE access to a PDF version of the workbook, which also set-up like a 90-day planner. I am excited to start this process and would like to invite YOU to try this 90-day goal achievement process with me! If interested, fill out the form below and I will send you a link to obtain the PDF version of the workbook, as well as add you to my private Facebook group where we will be able to share experiences and encourage one another along the way.  
 





Friday, January 1, 2016

January 2016 Reads

 
 
Welcome to This is me…..Then!  If you like what you see, subscribe here for free updates, or you can “like” my Facebook page here and receive new posts in your news stream.  Once you like my page, you can choose to see posts in your newsfeed first or receive a notification for each post made.  Thanks for visiting!  This post may contain affiliate links.
 
I have one of the same goals in 2016 as I had in 2015. 

Read one book per month.

It worked well for me last year, though I did miss a few months, and I would like to continue this same goal this year.

In December 2015, I started a book called I Will Teach You To Be Rich.  This book is written by Ramit Sethi and is described as a 6-week personal finance program that works.  Needless to say, there are only four weeks in a month, so I still have a few more chapters to finish before I complete this book.  Therefore, one of my reads for January 2016 is I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.

BUY HERE

As part of our Christmas tradition, there are two items that the people in my household receives every Christmas eve.
1) Pajamas
2) A book

This year, I decided to get my husband an adult coloring book with colored pencils.  I brought my daughter a Melissa & Doug coloring book and jumbo triangular crayon set.  My husband gave me two books.  One of which is based on T.D. Jakes #1 New York Times Best Seller entitled, Instinct: The Power to Unleash your Inborn Drive.  This is not the actual book, but rather the Daily Readings version of this book that provides 100 insights that will uncover, sharpen and activate your instincts.  Therefore, one of my other reads for January 2016 is INSTINCT Daily Readings: 100 Insights That Will Uncover, Sharpen and Activate Your Instincts. I will be reading this for the first 100 days of 2016, so will not complete this book until mid-April.  Since each reading is only 2-3 pages, I will still be able to add a new book each month, without causing too much of an inconvenience.

BUY HERE

Books Mentioned:

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I Will Teach You To Be Rich And Get Ready To Invest

I Will Teach You To Be Rich And Get Ready To Invest
 
Welcome to This is me…..Then!  If you like what you see, subscribe here for free updates, or you can “like” my Facebook page here and receive new posts in your news stream.  Once you like my page, you can choose to see posts in your newsfeed first or receive a notification for each post made.  Thanks for visiting!  This post may contain affiliate links.

 
Week 3: Get Ready To Invest
Open your 401(k) and Roth IRA -- even with just $50
 

I am reading I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.  This book provides a 6-week step-by-step guide to getting your finances in order to become rich. 


Week 1 focused on optimizing your credit.
Week 2 focused on opening and optimizing your bank account.
Week 3 focuses on teaching you to get ready to invest.

This chapter will discuss why you should invest and the best way to start investing your money and how to set up the process in a week.

THE WHY
A millionaire is not a person who makes $1 million or more per year.  A millionaire is someone who's net worth is $1 million or more.

On average, millionaires invest 20 percent of their household income each year.  Their wealth isn't measured by the amount they make each year, but by how much they've saved and invested over time. 

Investing is the single most effective way to get rich!

THE HOW
Step 1: If your employer offers a 401(k) match, invest to take full advantage of it and contribute just enough to get 100% of the match.  This is free money and there is, quite simply, no better deal.

Step 2: Pay off your credit card and any other debt (excluding any primary home loans you may have outstanding).  If you can't pay this off immediately, set up a plan to pay off your debt within a specific amount of time.

Step 3: Open up a Roth IRA and contribute as much money as possible to it, up to the maximum allowed by the Internal Revenue Service.

Step 4: If you have money left over, go back to your 401(k) and contribute as much as possible to it, up to the maximum allowed by the Internal Revenue Service.

Step 5: If you still have money left to invest, open a regular nonretirement account and put as much as possible there.  Also, pay extra on any mortgage debt you have, and consider investing in yourself: Whether it's starting a company or getting an additional degree, there's often no better investment than your own career.

*Please note that my philosophy varies slightly from what Ramit suggests in his book.  My how, which takes into account Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps, would be the following.

Step 1: If your employer offers a 401(k) match, invest to take full advantage of it and contribute just enough to get 100% of the match.  This is free money and there is, quite simply, no better deal.

Step 2: Pay off your credit card and any other debt (excluding any primary home loans you may have outstanding).  If you can't pay this off immediately, set up a plan to pay off your debt within a specific amount of time.

Step 3: Open up a Roth IRA and contribute as much money as possible to it, up to the maximum allowed by the Internal Revenue Service, but no more than 15% (minus the % you have already contributed to 401(k)) of your income.

Step 4: If you have money left over, go back to your 401(k) and contribute as much as possible to it, up to the maximum allowed by the Internal Revenue Service, but no more than 15% (minus the % you have already contributed to 401(k) and Roth IRA) of your income.

Step 5: If you still have money left to invest, open a regular nonretirement account  and put as much as possible there.  Also, pay extra on any mortgage debt you have, and consider investing in yourself: Whether it's starting a company or getting an additional degree, there's often no better investment than your own career.
              5a: If you have children, open an ESA or 529 plan to save for their college education.  If not, skip to 5b.
             5b: Use all extra money to pay off your home early.  If you don't have a mortgage, skip to 5c.
             5c: Open a regular nonretirement account and put as much as possible there.  Also, consider investing in yourself: Whether it's starting a company or getting an additional degree, there's often no better investment than your own career.


BUY BOOKS HERE:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Amazing Deal Flash - VideoSecu ML531BE TV Wall Mount


Welcome to This is me…..Then!  If you like what you see, subscribe here for free updates, or you can “like” my Facebook page here and receive new posts in your news stream.  Once you like my page, you can choose to see posts in your newsfeed first or receive a notification for each post made.  Thanks for visiting!  This post may contain affiliate links.

 

VideoSecu ML531BE TV Wall Mount for most 22"-55" LED LCD Plasma Flat Screen - up to 88 lb VESA 400x400 mm with Full Motion Swivel Articulating Arm, 20 in Extension, for Monitor (Black) WP5

List Price:$125.00
Price:$24.99 Free Shipping for Prime Members
You Save:$100.01 (80%)

 

Heavy guage steel supports screens up to 88 lbs. compatible with VESA (mounting hole pattern) 400x400mm/400x300mm/400x200mm/300x300mm/300x200mm/200x200mm/200x100mm/100x100mm (16"x16"/16"x12"/16"x8"/12"x12"/12"x8"/8"x8"/8"x4"/4"x4")
  • Post-installation level adjustment allows the TV to perfectly level
  • Tilt, swivel and rotate for maximum viewing flexibility; VESA plate can be taken off for easy installation by one person
  • Low Profile mount retracts to 1.9" to save space, Extends 20" from the wall
  • Standard mounting hardware,10 ft HDMI Cable and 6" 3-Axis Magnetic Bubble Level included
  • Friday, December 25, 2015

    Merry Christmas! And the winner is......

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas!
    May the New Year bring joy, laughter and good health to you and your family!
     


    And the winner of the black 2016 Passion Planner (size: compact) is.........
    STEPHANIE B.
     
    Congratulations, Stephanie!  I will be contacting you shortly to arrange for delivery of the prize package.
     
     
    Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing, shared the post and liked my page.  I am so happy that all of you participated.  Thank you for your support.  Look for updates  and additional prize drawings in the coming year.
     
     
    Sincerely,
    This is me.....Then
    Faunya Estrada
    

    Monday, December 21, 2015

    My Passion Planner and Improptu Giveaway

    I just received two compact (5.5"x8.5") Passion Planners in the mail over the weekend and want to give away one copy before the beginning of 2016.
    The Passion Planner is a weekly planner that helps people break down their long and short terms goals into more actionable steps and gives them a place to incorporate these steps into their daily lives.
    To learn more about the Passion Planner, visit their website at http://www.passionplanner.com.

    To enter my contest to win a Passion Planner, do the following by Thursday, 24 December 2015 at 11:59pm:
    1) Fill out the entry form here.
    2) Like my Facebook page here.
    3) Invite others to do the same.

    *You may only enter the giveaway one time.....unless someone you refer also enters the giveaway and enters your name into the "Referred by" box on the entry form.

    Why am I doing this?  Because I have more Passion Planners than I can use.  Because I brought my very first Passion Planner in the beginning to 2015 and I absolutely loved it.  Because I'd rather give my extra planner away to someone who'd actually love to have one.  Because giving something away is actually on my Christmas list.  Because I thought is was a great idea to do on my blog.

    I will be announcing the winner on my blog on December 25th, 2015.  It is my Christmas present to you.  I plan to mail the Passion Planner shortly after, so that I can try to get it to the winner before New Years Day.


    Sunday, December 20, 2015

    Christmas Gifts for an 18-Month Old Girl

     
    Welcome to This is me…..Then!  If you like what you see, subscribe here for free updates, or you can “like” my Facebook page here and receive new posts in your news stream.  Once you like my page, you can choose to see posts in your newsfeed first or receive a notification for each post made.  Thanks for visiting!  This post may contain affiliate links.

     
    Meet Selah.  She is 18 months old and one of the most loving, beautiful, dramatic, silly and intelligent little girls that I have ever met.  She is also my daughter (No, I am not biased). 


    Christmas is coming up and I am so excited about how she will react when she opens her gifts.  We brought her gifts for Christmas last year, but she was too young to really understand what was going on.  This year is the first year that she will 'really' be able to understand that she is getting something new and this year she has a better idea of what she does/does not like.

    Firstly, I would like to point out that we have two family traditions that my husband and I have been doing ever since we've been married (5 years). 

    Tradition #1: We always buy each other pajamas, wrap them and put them under the tree or wherever we are storing our gifts for that particular year.  On Christmas Eve we gather around the 'tree,' open the gift and put it on before bed.

    Tradition #2: We also buy each other a book that we think the other person would enjoy or benefit from, wrap them and put them under the 'tree.'  This gift is also opened on Christmas Eve.

    * Tradition # 2 is new and this is something that we just instituted last year.  We each buy each other a gift and then we buy Selah's gifts together.


    If you have read any of my previous blogs on preparing for the holiday, then you know that we have a holiday spending budget.  The dollar amount saved for Selah's gifts is $100. 

    GIFT #1
    Elmo Play All Day
    BUY HERE

    Thus far, we have spent $40 on the Elmo Play All Day.  This toy is regularly priced at $59.99, but is currently $45.99 on Amazon.com.  We purchased her toy from ShopRite on Black Friday.  Elmo Play All Day is a plush cuddly toy, featuring 8 games/activities and 150+ responses.  Selah is obsessed with Elmo, as is most toddlers her age, so I know that she will LOOOVE this toy.

    GIFT #2
    
    Melissa & Doug Jumbo Triangular Crayons
    BUY HERE
    Melissa & Doug Jumbo Coloring Pad
    BUY HERE

    Selah absolutely loves to write.  She writes in coloring books.  She writes in regular books.  She writes on cardboard and she writes on the floor.  She writes on skin and she writes on walls.  It's only natural that we would choose to get her a) Melissa & Doug Jumbo Triangular Crayons and b) Melissa & Doug Jumbo Coloring Book.  Both products cost a little under $5 each on Amazon.

    GIFT #3
    Pajamas: We haven't picked out the exact pajamas we will get her yet, so I don't have much detail available.  However, I was in Gymboree earlier today and they had really cute pajama sets on sale. (Click on Gymboree link to receive 25% off your first order.)

    GIFT #4
    Gift #4 is up in the air.  Assuming the pajamas cost between $10-$20, we have approximately $30-$40 left to spend on Selah's Christmas gifts. 

    Since her ears are not pierced, I am considering a bracelet.  However, when I mentioned it to her dad, he didn't seem that enthused.

    We are also considering a learning tablet.  Since she loves the iPad and our cellphone, I would love to get her a tablet specifically designed to increase her intellectual ability.  However, we don't know if we'd be able to find a quality tablet for the price range mentioned above.

    Clothing, toys or extra books are always an option, if we can't figure out anything else.  I also like the idea of spending money on 'an experience' rather than material things.  Only time will tell.....and suggestions are more than welcome!

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