Friday, March 31, 2017

Ready For Easter and Having a Gift Stash

So I was going over my list of items I wanted to get for the kids' Easter baskets.  I had this pretty huge list of items I thought they would like, things they had asked for and a few I thought would just be  fun.

I was also going over finances and seeing how much everything would cost, as I did not want to spend a ton of money.  Easter, after all, is not about a basket filled with gifts.  It's not about how much 'stuff' you get either.  But we all know how much fun it is to get a special treat for the holiday, and I like making every holiday special.

As I was going over my list, I also decided to go over all the gifts I had stashed away as well.  And as it turned out, I was more prepared for filling the kid's Easter baskets than I thought.  And I wouldn't need a lot of money to do it.

I like to stick to inexpensive gifts that tend to be on the smaller side (obviously they have to fit in a basket), and as it turns out almost every item I had in my gift stash was the perfect size to fit in an Easter basket.  Also, I think the baskets should be fun, and not taken too seriously.  Not filled with too much junk, but have a good balance of toys and treats.

This year, I think I did pretty good on finding that balance and keeping things to a minimum.  I try not to go overboard with Easter baskets and I find it a struggle sometimes keeping things simple.  But this time around, not having the extra funds to overbuy really helped to reel in the spending.  With all that being said, the kids still ended up with about 11 items by basket, more than enough if you ask me.  And with most items coming from my gift stash, I'd say that's not bad.

Now, as for how much I actually spent on each basket, I am pretty proud to say I didn't  spend much at all.  At least not all at once.  Most of the items that I purchased for the kids for Easter were bought last year, waaaaaay before Christmas.   And most, if not all, of the items were less than $5 each.  I probably spent less than $15 per basket, when all is said and done.

That's  the beauty of having a gift stash, you are always ready for any gift giving occasion.  Having a stash means you never have to actually buy the gifts all at once and when you need a gift, it's right there ready and waiting for you.  Just slap a bow on it and you're good to go.

Buying small, inexpensive gifts year round and stashing them is a great way to help save money, especially since most of the items I purchased were on sale.  There have been times when I needed a gift but didn't have the extra money to go out and buy one.  All I had to do was look in my stash and crisis averted.

So without having to spend much money at all, my kids are all set for Easter.  Having a gift stash is truly a wonderful idea and if you don't have one, start one today.  You will never not be prepared for another holiday or birthday again.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bad Things Happen Sometimes

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.  We crashed our brand new car!  And when I say we, I mean hubby.

In our experience, we just can't seem to keep a car looking new for long.  Before we know it, something always goes wrong.  This time, something went really wrong and now, we are once again without a vehicle for our family.

Thankfully, the crash was not that bad.  Hubby was with our oldest son and our youngest.  They went on an errand to buy our 17 year old his 'birthday' gift:  a playstation 4 slim.  The excitement was though the roof as he sold his Wii U to earn the money for the new gaming console, one he had been wanting for over a year.  And he was proud of himself that he was able to mostly fund the purchase all on his own.  

From what Hubby told me, they went and bought the console quickly and it was when they were heading home that the accident occurred.  It was a minor fender bender and no one was hurt.  But legally speaking, we're not sure how much this little accident is going to cost us, even though we have insurance.

To say it was a stressful night would be an understatement.  I was pretty calm as I had scratched up the car just a bit the day before and was freaking out myself about the cost of repair.  I took the car to 2 different mechanics to get a price quote on how to 'buff' out and repaint the front bumper.  My little scuff up was because I overestimated how much room I had parking into our little carport and rubbed against the wall, making a small and not so noticeable ding in the wall and a few scratches on the car that you had to get up close to see.  But that got me all shook up and made for a miserable day.  I could just about imagine how my hubby felt from his real accident, where another person and car was involved.

Thankfully, he took all the necessary legal steps you have to take here in Costa Rica; speaking to the transit police, the insurance and the dealership, as well as the lady whose car he hit.  But the unanswered question remains:  how much does insurance cover for the the other driver and how much out of pocket do we have to pay to get our car fixed?  The car doesn't even really look that bad to be honest, although up close it looks like we had a slight run in with a wall or something.  But the radiator was punctured, rendering the car pretty much useless as it cannot be driven.  We have to take it in on Tuesday, which was the soonest we could get an appointment with our dealership and it will take about a week to fix.

It has been a looooooong week, that is for sure.  With all the paperwork involved with this process, I highly doubt we're ready to see the light at the end of tunnel just yet, as someone mentioned we might have to go to court?  I am not too worried though, as I feel it will all work itself out in the end.  I just have to have faith and trust in a higher power.  As for not having a car for a whole week, well, that will suck.  But I have been without my own personal vehicle before so I can handle a measly one week.  Having to shuttle the kids to and from school on bus is no picnic, but it can be done... and besides, I have my mother in law's brand new car as a back up just in case.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

He's Almost A Man!

I am not sure what to feel right now.  As of March 28, which is less than 3 weeks away, I will have a 17 year old SON!!!  I am excited and feel a little odd because "HOLY CRAP... I have a SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD SON!"

It makes me truly happy that I have raised a well behaved, fairly competent, and mature young man. He is such a good son, a good brother and pretty good friend.  I love him to pieces.  Loving him to the moon and back?  How about I love him to Pluto and back (or whatever the farthest planet from the sun is).

He is such a simple kid too, which is awesome because his personality is very low key.  I got more than lucky having him as a son, I got blessed.  Yes, we've had our ups and downs (most likely documented on this very blog), but he has matured so much over the years that I am truly humbled to have him for my first born son.

To celebrate his birthday this year, he decided on a Paintball outing with a few friends and family.  It'll be low key (like his personality), with some pizza and snacks after at home for refreshments.

To say that he is the best older son I could have asked God for is probably an understatement of how I truly feel.  He is truly a wonderful person and will one day be a wonderful man (sooner than I can blink).  I can only hope and pray for the best out of life for him because he deserves the world.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Settling In

After a full month of the kids being back to school, I have to say we have finally settled into a routine.  So far, the kids have been liking me being their chofer and I have to say, I don't mind it at all so far.  I do have concerns about sick days, mainly mine, when I am too weak to drive them to school.  I feel like I should have a back up plan for those days, as I would hate for them to miss school on account of my illness.  But so far, things have been going smoothly.

I also love being able to take my 3 year old more places with me, as having the car at my disposal makes  running errands with a toddler tolerable.   And he loves coming along with me for all the mundane things I tend to do, like grocery runs.

Now I 'm not going to lie, I am pretty nervous about this school year.  With exams right around the corner, extra credit homework to be done and just school work in general, it is going to be a pretty busy year for my kids.  Every parent wants their child/children to succeed at life.  And to succeed at life, you have to succeed in school first.  So it is a lot of pressure.  As much as I dislike the public school system in Costa rica, I have to say that, thankfully my kids do go to a public school.  They are only in school for 5 hours a day instead of the typical 7 to 8.  And their course work isn't too overwhelming.  I guess my biggest beef, if you will, is how the public schools are set up.  But I am lucky the school my kids are in is not so bad and the teachers so far, from my own personal experience, have been wonderful.

I think that if I become more involved and stick to a routine that my kids can easily follow, the school year will be a success and not at all terrible.  Besides, the year will just fly by, like 2016 did and soon enough, it'll be vacation again.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Creating Lasting Family Traditions

When you have kids, there's just something about wanting to create memorable family traditions that will last for years.  Traditions that will stay with your kids into adulthood.  Traditions they will want to carry on with their own families.  For me, it was important to have those moments and memories my kids can look back on with fondness because a childhood without family traditions is not much of a childhood at all.

For many reasons, creating fun traditions for my kids were important to me because I remember the few that I shared with my family growing up and how those memories made me feel.  The main reason, however, that I find myself creating so many great traditions with my kids is because there weren't many when I was young.  Yes, I come from a traditional family and culture.  But as far as special family traditions go, traditions that were created just for us as kids, there weren't that many.

That is why to this day, I hold steadfast to the traditions I have with my kids and make sure to carry them on from year to year.  There are the traditions that we only do once a year at very special times of the year, like for the holidays.  For Easter, we have our scavenger egg hunt, a special breakfast and the kids get their baskets.   For Halloween the kids dress up in costumes and I take their picture for memory's sake. Thanksgiving is a thankful holiday where we share a special meal and recount our blessings and what we are thankful for from the previous months.  And of course, the biggest tradition of them all, celebrating Christmas.

Every year, we celebrate the Christmas season with homemade crafts like making cards and baking goodies to give as gifts.  We watch all the Holiday specials on TV and try to find fun Christmas related activities to do as a family.  And when it comes to birthdays, we, of course,  always have a special celebration every year and that is a tradition that I will forever hold true to. 

Then there are the traditions that aren't just for special holidays and occasions.  Traditions can be something you do daily, like reading a bedtime story to your kids each night. Or something you do weekly, like our Friday night movie night.  Or even the once in a while family game night, where Sorry or Go Fish dominates the afternoon.

When my kids grow up, they'll look back on their childhood and remember all these special and fun traditions we did as a family and have special memories to share with their own families.  Traditions that they will, hopefully, one day pass on to their kids.