Category Archives: Life

My name is Lauren…and I am an OCR.

Well, if you haven’t read my “About Me” section, here’s a quick rundown. My name is Lauren. I’m 28. We live in South Carolina. I have an A.A. with a concentration in elementary education and a B.S. in Psychology. In two years, when my son can start 4K, I will be going back to school to become a licensed counselor (at the very least). I have accepted the responsibility of putting my education on hold so we can become financially stable (better late than never!). I have been married almost 9 years to MW (man-wo lol). We were 19, young and in love. It’s been rough, but we have made it and we are content and happy. We have two beautiful children, Princess (8 yrs – girl) and Prince (2 yrs – boy). We also have two dogs, Bruiser (my puggle) and Willow (our lab/husky mix). We live in the country on Lake Murray, and other than freezing in the winter and dealing with bugs in the summer, we LOVE it.

Another thing I love?! Reading. I am an OCR – Obsessive Compulsive Reader. That is not an “official” psychology label, but rather something I jokingly came up with for myself. I read A LOT. I mean, I can read an entire series in just a few days. I become absorbed by the story and kind of ignore everything. My husband is the same way. He is currently reading a series and I do not exist haha But it’s comforting to lay beside each other at night after the kids are asleep and just hold hands or entwine our legs and read. No words need to be spoken, but the touch and closeness is comforting. I think that shows a real relationship, after so many stressful years.

Anywho, back to the point of this post, My name is Lauren..and I am an OCR. I am not ashamed of it. I do feel guilty when my children want to play or go outside and I just want to read, but I do make up for it! We are a family who loves electronics, so we are absorbed most of the time. But at the same time we are always around each other and take strength from that closeness. We are teaching our rather cautious Princess how to ride a bike with no training wheels. She is growing in confidence every day, and I am SO proud of her. It is powerful watching your child learn something that YOU are teaching them. What a feeling of utter joy! And waiting until they are ready instead of pushing them builds their confidence much more steadily.

Man, this post is all over the place. I apologize, it’s just been a while since I’ve written and I have a lot of ideas floating around. I just finished the Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins. It’s a YA novel (directed toward teenagers), but the storyline is pretty fantastic! I may start blogging about reading. I love to gush about my favorite novels. I’ll consider that, because I am seriously obsessed with reading good books. Key word being good. After the first chapter I can tell you whether I will like the book or not. Since I love to read, if I don’t like the book, I’m not going to finish it. No use wasting my precious time reading something I’m not going to like just because. Once I start a book, it becomes my entire focus. I do put it down and spend time with the kids, but in all of my “downtime” (which is every few hours for about 30 minutes), I am reading. And I stay up late. Way too late haha

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I know there are others out there that do the same thing. I see a bunch of groups on Goodreads agreeing to read the same books and monitoring conversations…but I just want to read and gush when I feel like it lol If you want, look up my Goodreads account and recommend some books. Or comment here!

Well, done with my random thoughts. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading! If you have no idea what I just talked about…pick up a book and get absorbed in it. And if you DO know what I’m talk about, you rock! ūüėČ lol

Mental Monday ~ Day 1

Today’s the day! The day I start my very first organized topic week!! I am a psychology major, so anything that deals with the mind interests me. Some of my blogs will be about mental disease, issues, and new age treatment. My life topics will cover love, relationships, and kids.

I guess I called it “Mental” Monday because Manic/Maniac Mondays just didn’t sound right to me. Being mental is what it’s all about. Intelligence, anxiety, self-image, and feelings all tie in with your mind. Sometimes I feel like I love my husband and children so much that no one in this world could love someone else like I love my family. I feel so strongly, that writing this blog is helping me focus. This is key to my Mental Mondays…

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LIFE

What a wonderful way to describe life. You must live life forward, but the only way to understand it is to look at it backwards…in the past. I’m sure every one of you have made mistakes you wish you could take back. Whether it was something big or something little, everyone has made a mistake. The key to life, however, is learning from those mistakes. Touch a hot stove once and burn your finger, you won’t touch it again (at least adults won’t…it takes a few times for little kids…and I’ve touched it not thinking, but you get the drift!).

Life is eternity. It is yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is 100 years ago and 100 years from now. It is giving birth to another human being, saying “I do” to the love of your life, and navigating the daily droll of work, peer pressure, and societal expectations.

It is not our destiny to understand life. It is our destiny to live it.

For years I focused on finding the meaning of life and the “pursuit of happiness.” I wasted hours, days, years on trying to perfect my life…instead of living every moment to the fullest. When my son was born in 2012, it seemed like my world exploded. I began to feel every emotion, see every color, and hear every sound. I thought I felt before, but nothing prepared me for what followed his birth. I love my Princess, but my Prince altered my state of mind. I had my daughter when I was 19. A child. Of course I did not realize that then, but 8 years later I’ve gained some much needed wisdom.

So what is the key to a happy life? Well, that’s a little harder to explain. It is different for every person. One individual may want to accomplish great things in science, while another wants a large family. AND, life is never set in stone. I swore on my existence I would not live forever in South Carolina. When my husband joined the military, I was SO excited to leave the state. ¬†I’ve seen Europe and the whole eastern coast, so I was dead set on settling somewhere new. Then when my husband left the military, we moved back to SC and we settled in the country, a place we used to hate. Now, for the first time in our lives, we feel at home. We are renting now but we plan on buying some land in a couple of years. 10 years ago I would have laughed in your face if I would have thought I would actually like staying in South Carolina. But now I cannot picture us anywhere else. It sure does feel awesome knowing where we belong.

Everything in life changes. Your job may change, your relationship, your financial statues, your passions. Make the best of what you have when you have it, and learn to go with the flow.

The point of this long drawn out post is that life is full of surprises, accomplishments, failures, and mistakes. If you want a happy life, you have to learn to compartmentalize all that happens to you so you can learn from your past, to improve your future. It really is that simple.

Good Morning from SC, USA!!

Let the sun shine on you today!
Let the sun shine on you today!

I woke up to a cold, brittle day in good ole southern USA. South Carolina is know for it’s hot and humid summers and mild winters. Well, this winter has been anything BUT mild. We’ve been averaging near freezing temperatures every day, which is SO NOT COOL (well, it’s technically cold as shittake but whatever! haha). This is so unlike our normal weather. I’m a warm weather gal, so the only thing that warms me up nowadays are the smiles from my husband and children, the bright sun¬†shining¬†down on me, and a good cup of joe, or as my son calls it, “caw-kee.”

What a Difference 5 Years Makes…

I just have to throw this out there. It AMAZES me how different 5 years in the technology field means in the real world.

Back in 2009, my husband and I purchased our first flatscreen Toshiba 40″ LCD television. It was top of the line and we paid around $1200 USD after taxes. At the time, that was one of the mid-high level televisions. Well, this past year we upgraded to a Sharp 60″ Aquos television WITH a 2-year warranty (we have a busy bee 2 year old so it was necessary!) and we only paid $850 USD after taxes. WHAT?!?!¬†That in itself just blows me away!!!!! From a 40″ to a 60″ and we paid $350 USD LESS!!

Today, my husband and I both purchased the same budget-friendly laptop from Toshiba. It’s a “cheaper” laptop, but it has a good processor, 4GB RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. We have so many other electronics so these laptops are really just our “toys.” Well, back in 2008 I bought a “cheap” laptop for school and it cost us $1000 USD after taxes. Guess how much we paid for TWO laptops?¬†Our grand total was $535.98…for TWO laptops. That is just insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not to mention the speed of processors, the increase in RAM, and hard drive space. I just can’t believe you can get a laptop with 1TB and more on it. Windows 8 is pretty nifty with apps instead of having to go on a browser to reach certain pages. I currently have Facebook, WordPress (obviously), Yahoo! Mail, Twitter, and Pandora running on the laptop. I can easily switch between applications. I NEVER would have thought you could do all of this so flawlessly on a laptop (in case you forgot, my first and only laptop I’ve owned was bought back in 2008 and it was S.L.O.W.).

I remember the very first phone I got for Christmas when I was 16 (back in 2002). It was one of those ugly Nokia phones that had Snakes as the only game. Now, I have a tablet, smartphone, laptop, desktop, video game consoles, 3DS (for my daughter), and all kinds of kitchen gadgets.

On a final note, technology, simply, RULES. lol ūüėČ

On a Semi-Frugal Life

So, where do I start? In March 2013 my husband left the Army behind and our little family was thrown into civilian life without any assistance, aid, or guidance. You may think,¬†You’re grown ass adults, figure it out on your own, but let me tell you something…switching from military to civilian life is HARD. No more BAH (housing allowance), no more Tricare (no copays with insurance), no more discounts (which truthfully helped out a lot…but this is minor). My husband went from defending this country to making $9 an hour working in a warehouse. We took about an $1800 pay cut per month and we no longer had insurance (because we couldn’t afford it!).

Long story short, we lost our house, our car, we had to stay with my dad for months, and my husband switched jobs 3 times until he found his current one. Even though I have TWO degrees, I was either¬†too qualified or I didn’t have the right degree. I started watching kids in our home just to have money for food and gas…forget about the bills! Then we were saved by our awesome landlord. he helped my husband land his current job (as an RCA with the postal service) on August 11, 2014. It’s a day we will always remember because it’s the day our civilian life¬†truly started.

Now that the back story is pretty much out of the way, let me explain what I mean by living a Semi-Frugal Life. Frugality, in general, means being economical or thrifty with food and money. This could mean using coupons, dining out less, and shopping at thrift stores or on resale pages. A semi-frugal life just means we are frugal in most things, but we still go out and we still pay full price for some items. We are in no way those families that only shop thrifty, never go out, and incessantly turn off lights and are downright cheap. Below, I break down main areas to save money and to live a little more frugal.

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Coupons.¬†Coupons are pretty self-explanatory. You can use online coupons, clip from newspapers, Smart Source, and Valpak. The key to using coupons is checking sales at different stores. For example, let’s say you have a coupon for $1 off the purchase of two boxes of cereal. That, in itself, is saving money. BUT, let’s say your local grocery store has a sale with that specific type of cereal as Buy 1 Get 1 Free. Now you are already getting the cereal half price, but add the coupon and you only pay a couple of bucks for two boxes of cereal (which typically averages $3.50 a box down South). Bam! You just partook in your first frugal purchase. Make sure to participate in the savings cards (like Bi-Lo’s Bonus Card, etc), sign up for emails with stores, and check those sales weekly! Between coupons and deals, you can save a ton! If you need additional assistance in couponing, check out Southern Savers¬†because it is seriously the BEST resource for learning how to coupon, and linking coupons with specific deals at different stores!!!!

Here are some links to some more helpful pages:

SmartSource РOffers online printable coupons. Just enter your zipcode and start printing. (Can also use printed coupons in newspapers)

Valpak РYou can sign up to have these coupons delivered right to your house! *Most of these coupons are for restaurants and businesses, like Old Navy and carpet cleaning companies.*

Coupons¬†– And of course you have “old faithful.” Just enter your zipcode and start printing. (A lot of these coupons are similar to SmartSource, BUT they are different!)

Dining out Less. Again, pretty self-explanatory. If you have issues with dining out multiple times a week, this eats through your money FAST! Yes, it’s much easier to go out rather than cooking, and sometimes the food does taste better than your own…but GET OVER IT!!! You’ve already saved money by shopping sales and using coupons, so no use what you’ve bought! Don’t get me wrong, we tend to eat out 2-3 times a month, but be smart about it. For example, Groupon¬†is a great resource for getting discounts on things. It may seem counterintuitive to purchase a “deal,” but if you pay a couple bucks for a deal (such as buy one entree get one free), you are still saving money in the long run. This allows you to plan when you eat out, and you are eating for less than what it would normally cost. All of this adds into being frugal!

Thrift Stores. Thrift, thrift, thrift!!!!! That is SO important in frugality.

“One person’s junk is another person’s treasure!”

You will be amazed at what you can find at thrift stores. Goodwill and consignment stores are the way to go. Here are some tips:

1) Check EVERYTHING. Whether it’s clothes, lamps, tables, toys, electronics…check out every square inch of it. Look for stains, rips, tears, gouges, and missing parts. Some things can easily be repaired, repainted, or refinished, but make sure it is in good enough condition to do something with it!

2) Learn to barter. Some consignment and thrift stores are more than willing to barter for the right price. Don’t go in with lowball offers, but offer a few dollars off what they want…Hey, it won’t hurt to ask!

Thrift Shopping for a WIN!
Thrift Shopping for a WIN!

For example, look at the picture above. Earlier this year I went to our local Goodwill and spent over an hour perusing the racks. This is what I came away with:

* 4 shirts & a pair of shorts for my son.

* 1 camp shirt (she went to her first camp this summer), 7 pairs of shorts, & 2 pairs of flip flops for my daughter.

* pair of water shoes for ME!!!

So for 16 items I paid $38. Most of the shorts were Old Navy or Children’s Place (which most parents know are pretty expensive brand new). Bam! Thrift shopping at it’s finest. Definitely not my best haul, but it gives you an idea of what you can save!

Resale Pages. If you haven’t joined any resale pages¬†on Facebook, you don’t know what you’re missing. I’m only mentioning Facebook because that is the only site I have used (except for Craigslist, but use that at your own RISK). Resale pages are typically designated for the area you live in. In my particular area, we have 5-6 resale pages separated for different areas and different items. There are pages for children, women, cars, jobs, and general items.

What are resale pages? These are basically like Craigslist, but MUCH safer and easier to navigate. YOU can post things for sale or you can purchase items for sale from other members of the page. I have found toys, baby items, clothes, furniture, electronics…pretty much anything you can think of for MUCH cheaper on these resale pages.

Whew, this was a super long post. There is a TON of stuff I could have kept writing about, but that is for another day, another time, another hour.

There is always a ‘Once Upon a Time…’

Once upon a time there was a woman who had so many ideas, thoughts, and feelings running through her mind that she became Crazy for Sanity. Then while perusing through Pinterest killing hours of her precious time, she came across pins linking to websites helping beginners start their blogs (links to those helpful websites will come in a future post). That’s when it dawned on her…why not write all your ideas, thoughts, and feelings down for the world to see? She’s not shy, and maybe one of her crazy ramblings would touch someone in need, or guide someone in their search. So she set about doing intensive research and decided to start small and get a feel for everything.

Hello, and welcome to my new blog. I highly doubt anyone will read this, and probably the first few hundred posts I am going to make, but this is my therapy in this crazy, mucked up world. I am a wife, mother, daughter, nanny, teacher, doctor, psychologist, chauffeur, hair stylist, chef, magician, accountant, waitress, and referee to name a few job titles. I have two precious children, two dog-humans, and a husband I like to call my “man-wo.” We live a simple, slightly reclusive, semi-frugal life that I wouldn’t change for all the money, freedom, and Ferrero Rochers in the world (although a lifetime supply of Ferrero Rocher would be hard to pass up!).

I plan on filling this blog with crafts, advice, opinions, and of course recipes. Maybe one day when I’m rich, powerful, and have the most known blog in the world (hahahah, I can dream!), I will look back on this very first blog post, shake my head, and say TAKE ME BACK.

Just chillin' like a villian.
Just chillin’ like a villian.

So sit back, take a chill pill, grab a glass of wine, pop on some music, and fall into this Crazy for Sanity world I live in.