Monday, November 24, 2014

A little help with holiday grocery shopping!

Thanksgiving is upon us! Are you ready?

I got all of my Thanksgiving shopping done easy and early this year, and I'm about to tell you how!
I went to the grocery store two Saturdays ago and it was frightening! Did I mention that I went alone with three kids in tow? What was I thinking?
But we are having Thanksgiving at our house this year, so shopping for cartfuls is a necessary evil.

I got all of the above groceries without leaving the comfort of my home.

That's trips to the store. No managing three kids in an urban grocery store. No saying excuse us or pardon me a million times to strangers, but not one person says anything kind to me...they just glare because you have three kids with you and are blocking their view of the seafood because you can't get your cart around the traffic...
Walmart asked me to try their Walmart Grocery To Go service, although we'd already tried it twice before {and liked it}. 
"Plan your Thanksgiving with our help," they said. 
I was like, "Yes, please!"

Placing an order for delivery here in Denver was so easy. 

Just search for your needed items, sort by price or relevency. Add to your cart with a click!

When your order is complete, you select your delivery time. They have plenty of options. You can choose from two-hour-windows or four-hour-windows. This was our third order placed with Walmart Grocery To Go, and so far we've never actually had to pay for delivery. When I go to check out, it always ends up being free for some reason. But you can see the prices for different time slots, and pick one that is the right time AND price for you. I chose the 4-hour slot for Saturday night. It was 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. for $3.00. {Still ended up being free in the end.}

The way I look at it, paying a few bucks for delivery beats wasting gas, time, energy, and  you definitely save money by not being in the store and seeing all those little extra things you need but don't need. 

So I placed my order, and sure enough the next night, around 10 p.m., the delivery truck showed up. 
We'd been up watching Parenthood. I'm a night owl, so choosing the late delivery time is fine by me!

You want to tip them, but the Walmart website specifically says not to. 

So there you have it, without all the hassle of going to the store during the holidays, I had ALL my Thanksgiving shopping done. Just like that. {We got a special brined turkey from TJs, but literally everything else I needed was in these bags!}

As we were unpacking our groceries, we double checked everything on our order to make sure it arrived. We realized there was one thing from our $100 order missing! The cherry tomatoes! They were nowhere to be found. This is why you have to do grocery shopping yourself, I thought to myself, shaking my head. We made plans to call them in the morning and ask for a refund on the tomatoes. Then, my husband spotted them by the door. Sure enough, the tomatoes were there! We must have let them fall from a bag as we were accepting them from the delivery guy. My faith was restored. Walmart has done a good job so far in making sure our To Go orders have been complete and accurate. 

The holidays are stressful and time consuming, especially for moms! While having our groceries delivered won't completely replace all our grocery shopping, it definitely has proven helpful when it comes to large orders during stressful times. I can think of SO MANY times grocery delivery would have been useful. Walmart is making it easier than it ever has been before. Basically, grocery delivery isn't just for shut-ins anymore. 

If you are interested in trying it out for yourself, see here:
Walmart Grocery To Go

Better yet, use my PERSONAL referral link to save $15 from now until 12/31/2014:
Save $15 with Walmart Grocery To Go!

Give yourself a break for the holidays!


Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Grocery to Go program, I’ve received a personal invite and payment for my time and efforts in creating this post.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Welcome Winter - The Death of a Snowman

Warm Winter Welcomes
I guess I'm a bit of a hypocrite in that I object to people saying it's summer when it's really just the first week of June but when it comes to winter, well winter starts when the snow starts. So maybe I'm just picky because I was born on the summer solstice and need that to mean something, and also--being a Colorado native--I know that winter is not like summer. Winter is an experience, and summer is a time. Says I. {I mean, not everyone gets snow and cold in December, but everyone has heat in July right? Shush, Inuits. I wasn't asking you.}
Warm Winter WelcomesWarm Winter Welcomes
And so here we are, mid November, enjoying winter. Because snow. Also, it's been mostly around 15° this last week. Sometimes as low as 0°, which has had me fretting over our chickens, but our feathered dinosaur friends are more hardy than they look. {I love my chickens.}
Warm Winter Welcomes
So on Sunday I decided to lure my family in the front yard with vintage sleds, and then I forced them to play along with the building of a snowman with the promise that if they completed this task, I might reward them with hot chocolate.
Warm Winter Welcomes
See, I'd thrifted a snowman dressing set from Goodwill last week and I wanted to get my $2.99 worth. What? It was originally from Restoration Hardware and thus probably cost $59.99 {on sale, in January, of course}, and it was still NIB. {That's new-in-box for those of you who aren't hip on the thrift jive.} Snowman in a box! It's a good idea, really. No one wants to waste a perfectly good real carrot on a snowman. There are starving bunnies in this world.
Warm Winter Welcomes
The problem was, well, there are two types of snow, as all Coloradans know. There is snowman building snow, and then there is worthless, good for nothing snow. Powdery fluff that doesn't stick to itself. Because its' so cold even the snow doesn't work.
Warm Winter Welcomes
My beloveds came up with this pathetic excuse for a snowman. Warm Winter WelcomesNaturally, I had to get involved and work my magic with my creative, artistic hands to help them out a bit. No, no, no, I said. This head is NOT big enough! And with that, I reached out to help with more snow...and I shattered the top two mounds. His head and bust just--POOF!--gone. My husband, my oldest, the baby, and a ginger all looked at me with contempt. Their bellies were grumbling for hot chocolate, and here I'd just killed their snowman.
Warm Winter Welcomes
With that, Winter 2014 was ruined. I decided to go with the bottom mound and dressed the snowman anyway. While I was laughing at the thought of our neighbors driving past and seeing our failed attempt at a snowman, turned snowbutthead, Eisley was crying. {She's sensitive like that. But it escalated and Justin had to take her inside to lay the smack down about pouting over mommy killing their first snowman. Look, I'm just glad I'm not always the bad cop parent.}
Warm Winter Welcomes
The Ginger Child liked it.
Warm Winter Welcomes
Paxton, meanwhile, decided he hates cold weather and had a break in the trunk. One-year-olds, see, don't do well in snowsuits and snow boots. Here they just learned how to walk, and then you up the ante by bundling them up, throwing them out in the cold, and expect them to just roll with it. They can't even use fingered mittens at this age. Life is harsh.
Warm Winter Welcomes
Typical aftermath: boots, coats, and snow pants discarded at the door. {Which, by the way, I thrifted almost all of for $30 this year. The snow gear, that is, our door came with the house.} This was about when I realized that in dragging my family outside in an effort to get them out of the house and having fun, I really just only created more mess for myself inside.
Warm Winter Welcomes
But you know what makes me an awesome mom? I made them hot chocolate using whole milk, that's what. Topped with Campfire marshmallows. Boom. Clap. {I'm so not an awesome mom, in truth.}
Warm Winter Welcomes
I might have ruined their snow man, but I made up for it with giant marshmallows.
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Sort of.
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I declare Winter 2014 to be alive and well after all.
Warm Winter Welcomes
Welcome, Winter.Warm Winter Welcomes
You and your warm winter naps.



P.S. I did post the blog about Justin's return to ListenUp {SO. HAPPY.} but I didn't go around advertising it because I actually got sick of all the couples-version navel gazing I'd been doing lately. You can go read that, the previous post, if you like. We've been so busy lately!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

There and Back Again: A Husband's Tale

Two weeks and two days into his new job, I called Justin to ugly cry at him. "I feel like a single mother!" I wept and I was angry. I was angry because it had been two weeks and two days of him leaving before the rest of us were awake, and two weeks and two days since we'd seen him home before 7 or 8 p.m.. Also, two weeks and two days of him passing out on the couch the moment the kids were in bed. It's not that I can't take two weeks of that, it's that I felt hopelessly like this is our life now, forever.

He talked to his new boss, who was apparently all concerned and understanding, and they decided together that Justin's days had to be planned around this: he must be home to his family by 5 p.m. They were supposed to be 50 hour work weeks, not 70 hours. Even then, 50 hour work weeks felt like a gargantuan new weight after spending the last five years at LU, working only 34-40 hour weeks. It turns out, his new job paid more steadily (no more commission variables), but less per hour.

I've never been the at-it-alone type of mom. I could never be a military wife, and I didn't sign up for that. Justin is my best friend. He doesn't hang out with the guys and I don't go out with the girls. I schedule the baby's doctor appointments on his days off, and yes, we all pile into the small exam room, all five of us. We don't do the smart thing most couples do and send one off to the store while the other stays home with the kids. No, all five of us go on most major shopping trips together. It's harder, but we like being together. Call us codependent if you want, all I know is: it works for us.

This is partly why his new job was putting such a strain on things at home. He was never here, and when he was here, "I don't like the person I am around the kids anymore." One of Sander's biggest fears: being a disconnected workaholic father.

He was losing weight, I was gaining weight. He was despondent every Sunday evening, realizing he had to go back to that job again the next morning. At the crack of dawn. I was sleep deprived, because I am an easily-spooked worryer and so when he left every morning at 6ish, I never really went back to sleep until the kids woke up. No, I was laying in bed, totally aware of the murdered trying to break in. {It was usually the dog getting into the trash or something.} Also, can I just say that I've never been one to get pimples--like, ever--but the last 5 months my face has been peppered with stress acne?

You thought the last two posts were complaint ridden, didn't you?!

I'm not trying to be a complainer, because the truth is he had a job whereas so many people in this world don't. However, what we thought would just be a rough adjustment getting used to earlier mornings and longer work weeks {but worth it for more regular pay!} turned out to be the period of life which I will henceforth refer to as: The Tribulation.

Things got better for me at home, with the promise met that he'd be home by 5:30 every night. They didn't get much better for him though. Sander did his job well and he learned a great deal. He had to write up an employee his second week, he helped hired two great new employees, and he felt like he got a "crash course in management".

Without roasting a company online, I'll just say this: it was chaos. It was an a small company that worked well as a small company, but had recently become a large company {workload wise} and a lot of the chaos trickled down the pipes right to Justin's position, which is why he got about a million phone calls a day and was always off fixing everyone's problems instead of managing from the office like he'd planned to do from the start. Whew. Got that?

Then there was the culture difference. For all the hard work, the rewards were few. He went from a company full of passionate audiophiles and professionals to a company that struggled to keep up with model home business. There is little passion for audio when it comes to Mr. and Mrs. Joneses picking out their security system and speakers for their tract home. I'm not trying to be a snob, I'm just saying that LU was ripe with exciting clients who had money to spend and invited creativity, people who shop at places like that are fun to work with. The culture of LU had been so great.

Then CEDIA came. {The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association convention.} Justin used to go with LU, now he was going with his new company. It also meant that morning that he didn't have to leave the house so early.

Oh the sweet joy! My husband, the easy and early riser, woke up with the kids and made them breakfast and got them dressed. Meanwhile I, the night owl and morning zombie, #whathappenedtoournewpetdragon #ithinkyoujustdreamedthathoney, slept in some, woke up {a process that takes the night-owl-morning-zombie at least an hour}, put my face on and did my hair. I was feeling quite selfish, and realized I'd always been selfish to take my husband for granted in the mornings.

"I've missed this," I confessed. Thinking he was probably going to say, "I bet you did." Instead he surprised me, "So have I."

"Really?" Because being a zombie in the morning and having to face three energetic children is like, my living nightmare. I forget, yet again, my husband is not like me.

"Yes, I've missed seeing and being with the kids in the morning. I miss having this time."

I could have burst into tears. See?! We ALL miss it! Even the kids, I could tell. They are miserable being alone with me in the morning. LU had always afforded us that: time together in the morning, and a more prepared, sane mommy to deal with throughout the rest of the day.

Justin got home from CEDIA and I was confused to see him so depressed. I thought a day away from the usual chaos at the office the four corners of Colorado would do his spirits some good. But no, CEDIA had only offered him a glimpse of the culture and professionalism he left behind to chase a what-if.

Look, up until that evening I'd been trying to be the supportive wife and kept saying cliché things like, "It will get better! Remember every job is an adjustment. Think of the dependable paychecks!" That evening, I finally said it, "Do you want to go back to LU?"

He didn't skip a beat, "Yes."

"Have they hired anyone to replace you yet?" I asked.

"I heard they just recently started looking."

"Contact them." I said. "Now."

Call me bossy, but it's a good thing I urged him not to wait a second, because they'd already started interviewing and had someone in mind. Talk about last minute.

While Justin had heard here and there through the grapevine when he'd left that the door would be left open for him, the reality is that the grapevine can't always be trusted {remember that game Telephone?} and you can't always just expect to waltz back into a company you left and be offered your job back.

My mind tried to make me regret Justin ever leaving LU, but my heart knew that wasn't an option. Did he want his job back? YES. Did I want his job back? YES. Was it a mistake to ever leave in the first place?

No. I don't believe it was. This was a journey of learning, friends. The other man's grass is greener, true, but not really. During the last 5 months, I've seen real changes in my husband. He wasn't late a single day, he was uber responsible and turned out to be a really good manager for his first try. It was as if he had something to prove, now that someone had entrusted him with all that management responsibility.

I also learned a great deal. I learned that when my car is available 24/7, thanks to his company car, that I leave the house less and spend less money. Just because it was always there...I didn't "need" it as much. We both learned together that the up and downs with the paydays had been crazy, but God had always provided for us. While month-to-month could be crazy, when it came time to file taxes we'd see his W-2 proved we'd be alright. The challenge, the steady pay, the company car...none of it was really worth leaving a company where we were happy.

Now, they were set to hire someone else and we both desperately wanted back. I remember the day he went in to announce his departure, I had knots in my stomach because I knew it just wasn't right--leaving a company that had been so good to us. Still, we regret nothing, because if he hadn't taken this journey off-road, we'd never have known and would have always wondered.

Justin spoke with his old manager at LU, and really put him in a predicament because it sounded like he'd made up his mind as to who Justin's replacement would be. It took almost two weeks to hear anything. A very tense two weeks, though again through the grapevine it sounded like his co-workers would welcome him back, especially his ability to fix the Control4 system.

I wrote this post weeks ago and am just now updating because we've just been so busy! Long story short, Justin went back to his old position at LU {I've withheld the full name of the business just because I don't want someone Googling home theatres in Denver to end up at this silly post}. We're SO HAPPY that he's back! Even the first couple days back, it was just like being home again, for all of us. The old routine, the one that worked so well for us, and all that stress just...gone. They even gave him his earned vacation hours back and decided to treat his brief departure as a sabbatical. See why I've always said it is such a great company?

We don't regret The Tribulation because it makes us even more grateful and appreciative of what we do have with LU. In hindsight, it's actually just all been one big blessing in disguise.

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